Key Facts

  • Holding organisation: Compagnons de la maison
  • Status: Belgian association (asbl)
  • Financing: none (The trainees get minimal compensation from public unemployment centre FOREM (1€/hour; travel cost; insurance)
  • People involved in the project: Compagnons workers of the association (17)/ 4 retired professionals
  • Public Partners: Senior House of the city of Marche/ FOREM (Wallonian Job Center)/ PCS (social cohesion plan)
  • Creation Date: 2009
  • Contact Persons: Catherine NOTTEBAERT
  • Main project links:

The idea

How to better acknowledge the know-how and technical expertise of retired persons? How to create a fruitful dialogue between young unemployed persons and older persons through concrete realizations and job skills exchange? The local association “Compagnons de la maison” employs local workers to conduct small renewal activities for old isolated persons and deprived families. Developing an intergenerational training was in their core value.

The local context

Marche en Famenne is a semi-rural city of 17,000 inhabitants in the Luxemburg province. The city has a very active Senior House with more than 200 registered members (among 3500 senior inhabitants over 60 ).

The starting point

Following the yearly call for project from FOREM (the Walloon job center), the local association “Compagnons de la maison” presented in 2007 an intergenerational project involving 4 senior volunteers from the Senior City House.

How does it work?

Preformation module: 4 months multidisciplinary training sessions opened to local unemployed people. The idea is to enable jobseekers to try on different professions with different types of workshops (electricity/ masonry/ gardening/ painting) animated by volunteered retired professionals with high expertise.


  • 1st week dedicated to test the motivation and capabilities of individuals; from the very beginning, the trainees are coming with the association workers to the different local clients. It goes in line with the companionship spirit where older workers are helping new workers to take over technical skills.
  • Monday: practical training day/ Tuesday to Thursday: work at clients’/ Friday: Applied mathematics/French (…).
  • Skills transmission examples: “ creation of a bricks fixed-barbecue in a green city zone”, “how to make a cost estimate?”, “how to calculate a tiled surface?”…


  • Target group: Unemployed persons (long-term reorientation profiles up to school dropped-out kids) / no specific skills needed. The association never had to make a selection. They decided to limit the number of trainees for better support (6).
  • Trainers: 4 senior volunteers from the City Senior House agreed to give time to the project and provide practical knowledge.
  • Support team: 17 compagnons workers of the association (among them 1 project coordinator).

Added value of the project and making resources available

  • improved intergenerational understanding: the younger people better understand the job passionate and difficult commitment from older professionals while the latter better grasp the current economic situation and the complexity for jobseekers to find a job .
  • real job skills exchange: not only know-how but also behavioural qualities and working conditions
  • personal value-creation for retired professionals


  • Financial: the process requires one full time support chef to coordinate the team and the project ; without public support it is a project difficult to keep on a long-term basis.
  • Senior commitment: during the 3 years time project, the same 4 seniors committed to the training. The Council of Seniors’ manager underlined the fact that many seniors working in these areas had a long and exhausting career and were not responsive to the call for participation.

Future perspective

The training occurred during 3 years (2009 up to 2011) but couldn’t be lately carried on (need for greater public support).

Other valuable projects

At “Compagnons de la maison:”

  • Scooters lending: The association owns 12 scooters that are being lent to low-income persons who need them for professional purpose (2,5€ per day)
  • Bike programs: Local inhabitants can leave out their old out-of-service bikes that are being dismantled and the spare pieces are reassembled to create new bikes to be bought at the association ‘office. There is also a specific program “Un Vélo pour la vie” (A bike for life) where kids can exchange their bike with one that fits their new height.

MORE: Press Article online



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