VSJ – December 2006 – Sounding Board

Ian Bell, MIAP has some thoughts prompted by Darren Brook’s article on disability discrimination in September’s VSJ.

Having read Darren’s piece, I would like to point out an omission from the list of discriminations – that is, age! In an industry that is forever evolving there is a perception that once you reach 50 your brain cannot absorb new concepts or techniques. Having gone well past that age, I was having lunch with an old friend who, at a similar age, has found it impossible to find employment. He invested in one of the many management consultancies offering career guidance, CV production and interview coaching. The consultant was very honest with him and quoted potential employers looking for an employment life of four years. They do the maths; add four years to your age and bingo. Is it visions of heart attacks at the first signs of pressure? No, it’s how will you fit into their team of thirty-somethings. Do they want someone telling their bright new stars tales of the dark ages when computers needed a whole building just to output “HELLO WORLD”?  There will be many other factors the interviewer will consider such as health, ambition and cost of employment.  I was asked the other day a very direct question by one of our new recruits. “What drives you to work 9 hours a day at your age? Your mortgage must be paid off by now, a few grand in the bank.” I said, “It’s easy, I love what I do and I’m passionate about this technology and its creative potential.” What has prompted me to write this? Well I may be facing the reality of having to seek other employment soon due to the decline in my employer’s fortunes.  I am not yet ready to retire. Today, as I write this, I feel as ambitious as I did 30 years ago. My brain may forget the odd relative’s birthday, but it’s a sharp as it ever was. When I finish this, I will go back to my current .NET project, developing a multi-user EDI application that does not cost a fortune every time the retailers want to change the message format or move from Tradacom to ENACOM.

Now where did I put that pen?

Readers will know that Age Discrimination legislation has been in force now for two months. We’ll have more to say on the subject shortly but, in the meantime, members who feel they are being unfairly discriminated against solely because of their age should contact the IAP office (admin@iap.org.uk or 0208 5672118) for advice.

[Something you’d like to get off your chest? Email me (Robin Jones) at eo@iap.org.uk.]

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