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IT Employers Discriminate Against the Over Fifties

Employers starting to discriminate against those in their 40s and 30s

Age discrimination is still rife in the IT and telecommunications industries, according to new research from recruiter Greythorn.

When asked if the industry discriminated on the grounds of age, nine out of every ten IT professionals polled by Greythorn said it did.

Three out of every four IT professionals think the industry discriminates against the over fifties.  The study also found that while seven out of every ten IT professionals feel either “secure” or “very secure” in their jobs, only three out of every ten workers over the age of fifty feel the same way.  And while only one in 20 IT professionals said they felt “very insecure” in their role, almost three in 20 IT professionals over the age of 50 felt the same way.

CHART 1:  “I feel secure in my job”

Paul Winchester, managing director of Greythorn, said, “In professions such as law or accountancy an employee is considered better at his or her job when they have built up a body of experience and knowledge in a certain area.  But in IT, age is not necessarily perceived as an asset.  Some people over fifty think they are unpopular with current and future employers because of the perception that experienced people cannot adapt to new technologies.  This poses questions for the industry.  Yes, Generation Y have grown up with web 2.0 et al – but does that really give them an edge?  Is it worth losing the in-depth knowledge, man management skills and experience of the over fifties in the pursuit of youth?”

But employers are not solely to blame.  More than three-quarters (77%) of workers in the UK argue that chief executives should be forced to retire before they reach 65#.  And close to half believe that politicians (45%) and judges (47%) should retire by the time they reach 60 years old.

In IT, the discrimination is further manifested in the length of time it takes people to find jobs.  Whereas it took 19% of IT professionals more than three months to find their last job, 33% of IT professionals in their fifties needed to take more than three months to find a job.

CHART 2:  “It took me more than 3 months to find my last job”

And while fewer than one in five IT (19%) workers say they don’t see a future for themselves in IT, this rises to one in four IT professionals in their fifties (25%).

Paul Winchester said, “In some areas of the industry it’s clear that the over 50s are finding it hard to get jobs as new talent comes through. Clearly, any discrimination on the grounds of age is going to fall foul of age legislation.  That means this issue is a ticking time bomb for the industry.  Companies face enormous potential liabilities if they continue to operate this way without considering the relevant legislation.

Greythorn’s research also revealed that age discrimination in IT is increasingly targeted at younger people in their forties and even thirties.  Although they feel more secure in their jobs than the over fifties, only 53% of those in their forties said they felt secure in their jobs.  Furthermore, almost a quarter (24%) of IT professionals in their forties did not find their current job within the three months.  And of those in their 30s, almost a quarter (24%) said they didn’t see a future for themselves in IT, compared to less than one in five (19%) of all those employed in the industry.

One IT professional told Greythorn, “I desperately need to get working full-time again.  I have tried everything I know to get back into the job market, but the ageism out there is a disgrace!”

Another said, “I am aware, personally, of some excellent engineers in their fifties who are redundant but who would do very well for any company which gave them a chance to show what they can give!”

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