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Almost Half of Tech Workers Worry About Losing Their Jobs Because of Ageism, Says Survey (siliconbeat.com) 291

An anonymous reader quotes a report from SiliconBeat: More than 40 percent of tech workers worry about losing their jobs because of age, a new survey shows. Jobs site Indeed also found that 18 percent of those who work in the tech industry worry "all the time" about losing their jobs because of ageism. The release of the survey Thursday comes amid other news about diversity -- or lack thereof -- in tech workplaces. Often when we report about diversity issues, readers wonder about older workers. The Indeed survey offers insight into the age of the tech workforce: It's young. Indeed concluded from surveying more than 1,000 respondents in September that the tech workforce is composed of about 46 percent millennials, with 36 percent of respondents saying the average employee age at their company is 31 to 35, and 17 percent saying that the average worker age at their company is 20 to 30. What about Generation X and baby boomers? Twenty-seven percent of respondents said the average age of employees at their company is 36 to 40, while 26 percent of respondents said the workers at their companies are 40 and older.
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Almost Half of Tech Workers Worry About Losing Their Jobs Because of Ageism, Says Survey

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  • by JoeCommodore ( 567479 ) <larry@portcommodore.com> on Thursday October 19, 2017 @06:05PM (#55400235) Homepage

    What do you expect when you came in in the 90s and 00s and shunned the older workforce, that you would be able to be an older worker later on?

    • It depends on the workers.
      The biggest problem is that as we get older we get stuck in our niche.
      Back in the 1990’s the older workers were mainframe gurus while the desktop PC is getting ground as a primary device for computing. While many of these skills can cross over the older worker was reluctant to use such technology. Today the workers who are in their 40’s and 50’s are getting the same additude towards mobile development. Still many of our skills cross over however we miss the opp

    • I guess my frame of mind is part the startup culture where you gotta be young "We're not working for our dads" mentality,

      The second is and I see this a lot in the non tech sector is the assumption that "younger generations are just better with tech because they grew up with it." And will pick someone younger under the assumption they will just get it. Ive seen that happen and then they learn not every millennial (or similar) actually likes tech, and don't get it easier either.

  • Don't live stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 19, 2017 @06:05PM (#55400247)
    Save as much as you can while you're young, when eating ramen and living in squalor is still cool. Then when you're older, worst case scenario is you lose your job and you're like, meh, didn't need it anyway. Best case scenario is you keep your job and glide into retirement driving expensive foreign cars and Teslas.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      The social contract between the older generations and the younger ones has been broken. It used to be that you struggled a bit at first, but there were genuine opportunities. You could own a home, raise a family, get your annual raises and make your pension contributions and be golden at the end of it. Your quality of life was going to be at least as good as your parent's.

      That's all fucked now because there are too many old people, and not enough young people and immigrants. The older ones vote more often s

  • The other half is planning on leaving and hope they get severance pay.
    • Severance pay hasn't really been a thing for more than 20 years now.

      The other half know that skills matter, and that learning the tech necessary for the job is more important than playing buzzword bingo with your resume.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 19, 2017 @06:11PM (#55400277)

    Posting anon,.....

    Living in Australia with over 250 to 300k per year immigration, we're seeing an incredible drop / stagnation in wages. If you're not a seriously skilled professional (admitedly, a reasonable percentage of /. posters but certainly in no way, all nerds and geeks) then you're in potential trouble.

    We've got more and more and more people, willing to work for significantly less money. These people are accustomed to a poorer quality of life back home, so when they come here and share a house with 5 other people, they think it's a palace, but sounds like torture to us.

    Plus you've got people who simply made a couple of bad choices skills wise or job wise, wound up in a role and found themselves simply with antiquated skills. I'm one of these myself. Yeah it my fault but my government is NOT making it easy. Wage stagnation is going on seriously for the middle class across the world.

    We're getting boned.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I am nearly 50 and still in high demand. Most people my age just want to work 9 to 5 and go home. Unlike them I push myself to keep up with the latest tech and aggressively manage my career. The guys in their 20s wish they could do half of what I can accomplish. When hunting for jobs if some place rejects me due to age it probably was a lousy place to work in the first place. I only take jobs from firms that need someone who can just handle it all from Manager down to dev work.

      • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @08:14PM (#55400849)

        Mid 50s here, and I work in C and embedded systems. So it's hard to find qualified candidates for the jobs, plus I'm good at it, and get a lot of recruiter spam. So I'm not worried about ageism for me. There are people that definitely are dismissive of older workers but I haven't bumped into any for some time.

        People say old people don't keep up on the skills, but that will apply to everyone. The problem is not about age or skills, it's about cost. If you're 30 you're NOT old, but even if you know 50 programming language you're still going to be compared to the cheaper worker who only knows the one language that the company wants. Those are dumb companies to be sure, they value quantity over quality, so maybe you're better off not getting a job at those places.

        An even bigger concern than ageism, especially for those with moderate skills, is outsourced. No matter what your age in the US, they can find someone that costs less overseas. Not good workers mind you, but if they can hire 5 incompetent people for the price of one qualified person then many companies will do that. And there are countries where it is routine for the manager to lie our their asses about how awesome their workers are and how they can do anything you can possibly ask. Being young won't protect you there.

        • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Friday October 20, 2017 @05:43AM (#55402239)

          Here the other side. We had difficulty finding people. We did not want people who just left school, but where a bit more mature.
          So we looked for older people from 55 and up. The fact that we would get extra money fro; the government in Belgium was a nice plus, but not the deciding factor.

          Worst. Decision. Evar. It was almost impossible to get them to do anything they already knew. Let alone learn them anything new. Just not flexible enough and easily double the time to be somewhat productive (a year, instead of standard 6 months). And we really tried over several years. At a certain moment you just give up. They where just too expensive, even if they got the same pay as others.

          The plus side? They are less sick on Monday and Friday. Less moaning about stuff. Much less drama. Yet the thing that remained was that learning new things was hard. Be it procedures or skills.

          I now also see it with myself. I know that if I got fired now, getting a new job would be near to impossible. Too set in my ways, even if I WANT to be flexible and WANT to learn, it will be extremely hard if not impossible. Because I would feel as if they do not want to use my expertise.

      • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

        I am nearly 50 and still in high demand. Most people my age just want to work 9 to 5 and go home. Unlike them I push myself to keep up with the latest tech and aggressively manage my career.

        How very Calvinist of you. Work will set you free...

      • It's not really a secret that you can 'be in demand' if you're willing to work your life away.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You're not the only one, and you're right. I was earning a liveable wage three years ago, but then I was unemployed for 12 months and now earning an entry level salary after 15 years experience - simply out of desperation.

      The major parties simply don't care. It's quite happy to throw it's own citizens under the wheels to keep it's economy going, just as easily as it has thrown it's own citizens under the wheel during wars in times past. Then we have a bought and paid for media telling us that immigration is

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      What is the alternative though? The birth rate among the non-immigrant population isn't very high, so you are headed towards serious problems as the population ages. You have plenty of space, those immigrants obviously want to improve their 5-in-a-house situation and seem willing to work towards that goal, creating new economic activity so it's not just "stealing your jobs".

      There were several major studies done in the UK into the effect of immigration on wages. It concluded that there was only a very small

    • Fortunately you're not American, so you won't be tarred as a racist just for expressing that sentiment.

  • I've always worried about age discrimination as well. But that's because I don't often see any software engineers in their 50's and 60's. Is the issue that companies aren't keeping or hiring older people or is it because there are fewer people of that age grew up around computers? When I was a kid I was monkeying around with a Commodore but few people even my age were doing that. What about people 10, 20 years older? It wasn't even an option for many of them.

    Plus, most companies I know are so desperate for

    • by slew ( 2918 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @06:49PM (#55400455)

      You open up a different can of worm with population sets. Of course by skewing their employees younger, software companies can often make their employees more gender diverse faster than if they did not do that...

      Older engineers are going to be more likely male. If you want to fix a "gender-diversity" problem in tech simply with new hires, you will likely find it to be pipeline limited. Interestingly, if you wanted to make faster progress than being pipeline limited, you can simply reduce the fraction of older engineers (who are more male dominated compared with the younger pool).

      Sadly, that's two strikes against companies keeping older engineers, generally more expensive and generally more male.

      • by Octorian ( 14086 )

        We keep hearing about this big bubble of women who went into computer science in the 80's, in far greater numbers than have been seen in recent years. This makes me wonder... where are these people? They'd all fall into the "older engineers" category now.

        • You bring up an interesting point. Are all those older women as vulnerable as the doddering 50-year-old men in this thread, or can they just slide over into HR?

  • As a retired IT ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @06:27PM (#55400355)

    ... I've some experience with this.

    Competition for IT jobs being what it is, I sometimes had to make a persuasive argument for hiring/keeping me as opposed to a young'n.

    In brief, it went like this:

    While recent grads know HOW to do stuff that I don't, I know WHY we shouldn't be doing it.

    Business is not a good place to be experimenting by being an early adopter.

    In skill comparisons, I got my first computer (TRS-80) in 1978. I speak DOS, lived the digital revolution, saw Windows 3.0 fail -- to be fixed by 3.1 -- helped bring in the first network for Mobil Oil, and grew up with the Internet and social media.

    I had the experience that entry-level peeps would get later, at the company's expense.

    It worked for 30 years.

    I've been retired for 3 years, so I don't know if that approach would work today.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Business is not a good place to be experimenting by being an early adopter.

      Business is a great place for that. You have to keep innovating and improving to stay competitive. I've worked on countless projects where we had to invest new techniques from scratch, adopt the latest technology and be ready to pivot if something didn't work out. That's how we got into 1st place and delivered a product that no-one else can touch.

  • by Minupla ( 62455 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {alpunim}> on Thursday October 19, 2017 @06:31PM (#55400365) Homepage Journal

    Get ready to change. There's lots of roles in IT that tend to prefer more experienced folks, the type of role where "Ya, I've seen that 5 times before, here's what we're going to do about it..." is the order of the day. Architectural roles of all stripes, infosec in general, etc. I've moved roles a few times in the last 25 years, (network monkey -> Mgmnt -> infosec -> infosec architecture) and I always find a new fun challenge every time I have.

    You're probably in technology because you can adapt to change, not because you're scared of it. Embrace that.

    Min

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @06:38PM (#55400405)

    Give it a few more years... you will definitely start.

    • Give it a few more years... you will definitely start.

      At what age? I'm 48 now. One of my colleagues is 70. When will I start worrying?

    • To be honest? I spent my WHOLE working career worrying about losing job X, Y or Z -- and have lost a few jobs due to the company I worked for filing bankruptcy and shutting down, as well as a layoff and a huge pay cut and threatened layoff at another one. I finally believe I found employment with a company that's not only successful, but makes smart investments in buying other successful small businesses and merging with them. (That, in turn, increases their need for the I.T. support I provide them along wi

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 19, 2017 @06:38PM (#55400407)

    I spent years working at a university rearch center. When I got there, they had no direction or plan regarding technology. One system at a time, I built the technology that they used for everything from directory services, storage servers, database, phone system, and even a security camera system. I used tons of open source systems - Linux, BSD, Postgres/PostGIS, Asterisk - and saved the institute hundreds of thousands of dollars. My reward? Shortly after my 50th birthday, and a few months before I finished my doctorate, they eliminated my position. As a bonus, it was also Christmas time too. Just lovely people. Two car payments, a mortgage, and a kid in college. While my wife and I were taking Christmas presents back and cancelling every possible optional expense we could, my former employer was hiring twenty-something business school types to fill seats and firing nearly everyone over 40.

    Filth. And doing this on the governments nickel down!

    • by King_TJ ( 85913 )

      My (albeit limited) experience with academia is that they make incredibly poor hiring decisions when it comes to I.T.

      There's the inevitable conflict of interest, for starters. They feel compelled to prove formal educations have real value, so they put a heavy emphasis on your number of degrees, certifications earned, etc. Often, the people who "collect" this stuff are just good at test taking and cramming for exams, but not necessarily any good at actually doing the job.

      There's a LOT of "politics" too ... I

  • Younger != smarter (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Want to know the real reason older workers get canned? Because they're experienced, knowledgable -- and they know what they're really worth, expect to be paid that, and aren't going to knuckle under to bosses that try to bully them into accepting less. Younger workers? Not so much on all counts. They might have good book-learning, but not as much real-world experience, and they'll accept less pay because they're easily convinced -- or pressured -- to take less money and benefits. It's an inversion of the wa
  • Let's table this real issue in favor of focusing on getting kids and women in tech. Plus we need to help all dozen transgenders in the military first too. Then maybe we can discuss California's 3rd gender and other pointless topics with no economics attached. Real issues like mass immigration, H1B abuse, and anything that might help a white male like ageism might impact the bottom line or threaten the 1% and is thus verboten.
  • I'm that good, I don't worry about it. I'll retire at 67, and come back in 2-3 times a week to continue working. I'm a problem solver and know how to think OUTSIDE the box.
    • If you're a problem solver and the problem is to change jobs... you solve it.

      People worried about ageism are typically not problem solvers.
  • So I've been around for awhile. I've bounced into several different roles. Now I've seen outright agism. Where the boss just won't hire anyone over 35 and once you're pass that point, you're sent to support and then eventually shown the door.

    Now, not 100% of the time, but a lot of the time, would say 60%, they're doing projects that are one offs and the customer is maybe a five year account or something. Basically, everyone goes into this, knowing that whatever is built, isn't sticking around for a long

  • by mikec ( 7785 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @07:12PM (#55400571)

    I'm 61, writing code, and having fun. My advice:

    First, find a company that lets you do what you want. In particular, find one that doesn't push you into management (unless that's what you really want). Many companies will push you in that direction, but unless you're really good at it, it's a dead end.

    Second, don't get stuck on the same project forever. Being the old fogey who knows everything about that important legacy system isn't a good place to be when the old system is finally retired. It isn't enough to "keep up with new technology". Knowing it and doing at are different things and are judged differently.

    Third, don't expect that your superior wisdom is enough. Be wise, but be productive, and help other people be productive.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      I have found those companies. I have found several of them. Some have closed the department I was in, some the whole company, some they fired the most expensive people, some the newest people. One time it was the function and my manager even saw to it that I got more than what I was entitled to.

      I was wise. I was productive, I helped people be productive. I was still let go.

  • I was the first one hired to start the "internet" dept of a printing/advertising company.
    After several years, I was replaced with six guys in their early twenties.

  • I started my own software company so I never have to worry about getting fired or downsized. I just have to worry about finding customers so there is revenue to pay myself something for my efforts. Not the easiest thing either.
  • Lost my job at 51 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @08:00PM (#55400781)
    Haven't even been able to get an interview since then. I've played all the tricks like shaving off the first 20 years experience from your resume, whatever. But when it comes to "when did you get a college degree" you can't lie, cuz the college is going to give the real year.

    Keep in mind, I'm not saying I interviewed and didn't get hired. I can't even get a fucking interview nowdays.
    • I feel your pain. I lost my job at 40 and cannot get past a telephone interview.
    • Re:Lost my job at 51 (Score:4, Informative)

      by ItsJustAPseudonym ( 1259172 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @09:08PM (#55401083)
      Can you get connected with a contract shop? Companies are often less critical about hiring contractors. Get in, make an impression, get hired. (Or get onto the next contract.)
      • Re:Lost my job at 51 (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mnemotronic ( 586021 ) <mnemotronic@@@netscape...net> on Friday October 20, 2017 @12:54AM (#55401693) Homepage Journal
        My first layoff was in 2009. I was a couple years older than you. Typical storage industry downsizing. I'd been at the company just shy of 20 years. Oh well. At the time I thought it was the end of the world. I didn't know it but I had been stagnating. Three months later I was doing contract work on the east coast for considerably less pay, but vastly increased exposure to technology and problems and out-of-the-box thinking. Found that job through Craigslist, not Indeed or Monster. Two years after that I took an offer from the company that created the tools I had been supporting for the last 12 years. I worked in their professional services group, gaining even more exposure to unusual problems. and customers using the tools in unusual ways. That really broadened my knowledge. After 2 years that company did a 35% downsize. Out again. I ended up being an semi-independent consultant for a couple years, but trying to do that and provide daily care for a very sick wife was stressful and difficult. I interviewed with a friend of a friend and got a FT job with a big consulting company. By that point I had earned the label "subject matter expert".

        So what am I saying? Don't give up hope. For me, every layoff has been a blessing in disguise. Each time I been able to broaden my skills, gain exposure to people and ideas, and learn to boldly go where no man has gone before.

        It's not about what you know; it's about who you know, and who knows you. Go to Meetups. Stay in contact with people. Get your name out into the back channels.

        One little trick to get your resume past the stupid HR filters. At the end of your resume add a section entitled "Software and products I've used or been exposed to:" and list every language you've written more than 1 line in, every technology and product you've used even if just once. Everything that you can legitimately claim to have been exposed to. Even if it was a demo. Now format that section in 1 pt font, white text. It becomes invisible in MS-WORD and in PDF, but the HR scanners care about content, not format. They will see all those magic buzzwords and your name comes out near the top of every search. It actually gets to be a pain when the endless Indian consulting firms begin matching you for every possible technology known. And now that that little trick is out there, it won't last long. Act appropriately, and good luck.
  • It's a very valid worry! Especially when most Americans are a paycheck away from losing everything they own.
  • I'm 51. This is not young in tech. And I'm right now earning really good money as a top-notch Linux/cloud guy. So long as I don't sit on my laurels, and continue learning and being relevant, I see no reason to worry about ageism, at all. Indeed, the longer I work, the more people I know, and the more who have enjoyed working with me, the less worried I am about what would happen were I to lose my job.

    Note that there *is* a different kind of older worker: the one who's found a niche in a company, hasn't

  • By high-tech standards I'm ancient (56). I have a pretty good gig going at the moment, but if (when) it ends, I will change careers because I know I'll be unemployable.

    Technologically, I've kept an eye on newer tech and have been active in deploying it in the company. We've replaced a major part of our company, a legacy communication system that ran on custom no-longer-available hardware, with Linux and VoIP running on COTS servers. We like it because it works better. The bean counters like it because it

  • I'm worried less about ageism and the cargo-cult programmers who latch on to the newest shiny constantly. They tend to shun engineers who are more reserved about their technology choices. "You're not a good programmer unless you used at least 15 different frameworks for your project..."
  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @10:51PM (#55401451)
    without the constant influx of cheap labor from overseas they couldn't indulge in ageism.

    Something else I notice that bothers me too though, the old guys at my place are usually fervently right wing, anti-government regulation and anti-Union except for this one thing. In this one thing they want the government to step on and protect workers rights. As someone that got screwed over a lot when he was young (right two work state and all that) that hypocrisy really pisses me off.
  • ... and had little to do with age. Unless you're a geezer that is.

    As for career changes due to age:
    I notice me getting more nimble and less worried about age, at least in terms of income. If I can't score a job I'll simply go Freelance. With grey hairs and wrinkles coming, I'll have to up my stock of business trousers and shirts and lose the t-shirts, but that involves upping my rates aswell and doing a little more writing and management and less all-nighters seeing up some machine, because next morning an

  • by PortHaven ( 242123 ) on Friday October 20, 2017 @08:22AM (#55402953) Homepage

    For example, Leidos, a large government IT contracting firm, recently announced it's 2018 benefits package. It was noted that those employees with 10+ and 20+ years of service will now be losing 3-4 vacation/sick/PTO days and a few even more.

    Essentially, corporations view older longer term employees not as notable for their loyalty, but as a burden. Why pay more, and give more vacation time to senior employees when we can hire someone fresh out of college or import an H1B Visa holder and pay them much less and give them half the vacation time.

    Meanwhile, Leidos executive compensation went from $2 mil, $2mil, $4 mil, $7 mil, $14 mil, and now $35 mil. The CEO went from like $2 million to $7 million, to $14 million in compensation. Essentially, what we have is a group of elite who simply game the system to move the wealth and benefits of the laborers to their own pockets.

    It's disgusting... but I doubt we'll see any change until we bring back the proverbial guillotine - granted it may be molecular disruption chambers in 2140.

  • Over 60 and in tech pre-sales. I show up in a room of 20 something IT folks and they act surprised when I not only know what they're doing in dev/ops but can tell them how they got where they are and how to get where they need to go. Occasionally, I have to remind them I've seen many of the wrong turns and stupid (failed) projects first-hand and can add some perspective to their own plans. Sadly, I'm acutely aware of the view of age and experience in the industry at large and have experienced firsthand H
  • The other half of older workers in America would GTFO if health care wasn't so f'd up.

    And, all of the older workers would love for the youngers to age up so that rediculous low-contrast web page text would go out-of-style.

  • After submitting several sample HOWTO pieces, I got a gig at MaximumLinux magazine as a Contributing Editor. I successfully submitted articles after that and was eventually authoring a monthly column. What my employers didn't know was that I was in my late 40s at the time. I didn't meet my editor, Bryan, until a Linux convention in NYC. When I approached him, I could see the surprise on his face when he realized that I was much older than he had assumed.

    That was the only experience that involved my age. I c

  • I think the whole 'into management' thing is backwards. If I am in a long meeting my mind wanders. I just don't care to put time or energy into interpersonal games. When I talk to people especially with bad connection or broken English my ears play tricks on me. But when I am programming 4 hours seems like a half hour and I can burn through stuff with a steady hum, better than I ever could when I was younger. It doesn't even feel like work.
  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Friday October 20, 2017 @10:01AM (#55403601)

    I'm 42, and although I haven't knowingly experienced ageism, I foresee a day in the future when I draw the short straw, get laid off and become another statistic in this "can't get hired past 45" environment. Every other real profession values experience, and in IT and development it seems like it's being actively ignored lately in the pursuit of new and shiny. Doctors don't have this problem...they can practice as long as they're able. Professors can do the same, but when you suggest that IT people have a similar career they look at you like you have 2 heads.

    I admit that there are _plenty_ of older workers who feel that they don't need to keep current in IT, or that their knowledge as it is today will continue to be relevant throughout their career. I know that's not the case and spend a large amount of time both inside and outside work keeping up to date. The problem is that potential employers paint all older workers with the same brush: "They can't learn, they're too expensive, they want too much time off, ..."

    I guess the problem is that IT and development are fields where things are constantly changing, and you need to keep learning at the same pace you were when you started, throughout your career. Yes, we have lives outside of work, we can't work 100 hour weeks, we don't want to live in the office, and we have more obligations than the average 25 year old. But, some of us have valuable experience that will prevent the younger workers from going down a dead end and redoing all that work. Personally, I still really enjoy the technical aspect of my job. Management isn't for everyone, and companies should recognize that...that's usually where they stuff the older burnt-out IT workers.

    I have no idea how to solve this either. Silicon Valley worships youth and cheap labor. I would love to go work for AWS or Microsoft doing cloudy stuff, but I'm not going to abandon my family for a job. I know way too many IT folks who are on their second or third marriage or are just perpetually alone because they're constantly trying to impress their employer. I think my advice would be to be a generalist who's willing to change direction as needed, learn constantly, live within your means so you're not the guy begging for raises every year, and find an employer that has figured out that a healthy mix of youth and experience works best.

You scratch my tape, and I'll scratch yours.

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