News & Media

Professor Susan Bisom-Rapp in Italy for Conference

Published: March 17, 2011
Professor Bisom-Rapp in Italy
Professor Bisom-Rapp Presents at the Modena Conference

Professor Susan Bisom-Rapp traveled to Modena, Italy to deliver a paper at the Ninth International Conference in Commemoration of Marco Biagi, hosted by the University of Modena's Marco Biagi Foundation.  The conference theme, "Europe 2020: Comparative Perspectives and Transnational Action," focused on the  goals and challenges of the EU's "Europe 2020 Strategy," which, among other things, seeks to increase the employment rate of Europe's 27-member countries to 75 percent of the population.  The strategy, adopted in 2010, will attempt to achieve that goal by encouraging greater employment of older workers, women, and immigrants, and law reform aimed at making European employment laws more flexible and less rigid.

On March 17th, Professor Bisom-Rapp and her co-author, Professor Malcolm Sargeant (Middlesex University Business School, London, UK), presented their paper,"Increasing the Employment Rate of Older Workers: European Objectives and US Lessons."  They identified compulsary retirement, legal in many EU countries, as a significant obstacle to increasing older worker employment.  Drawing from the US experience, however, where mandatory retirement is illegal in most sectors, they cautioned that much more is necessary than abolishing mandatory retirement.  In the US, unemployed older workers confront many challenges, including age discrimination, which in the hiring context is very difficult to prove, and discrimination by employers against unemployed workers more generally, a form of bias not presently illegal.  Additionally, they argued that careful analysis of unemployed older work job search strategies is necessary to develop programs responsive to the fact that older workers, once unemployed, have greater difficulty than their younger cohorts in obtaining reemployment.

This is Professor Bisom-Rapp's fifth consecutive year as a participant at the Biagi conference.  She serves on the Marco Biagi Foundation's international council, which always meets during the event. "Coming back to Modena every year is like coming back home," said Professor Bisom-Rapp.  "Seeing colleagues and friends, year after year, builds an engaged and committed community of scholars.  Although we come from many different countries, with very different legal traditions, we struggle with many of the same workplace problems.  Collaboration helps identify solutions that may help us all."