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Too Old To Earn Big In IT?
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Number 6
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Number 6,
User Rank: Moderator
7/7/2014 | 11:14:36 AM
Tw o Comments
1- The BLS statistics on unemployment are for the general population, not IT. I'd bet the IT rates would be higher at older ages.

2- Age discrimination is rampant but difficult to prove in court short of a smoking gun memo. H.R. departments are always careful to say it's a skills issue, not your age, even if it isn't.
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
7/7/2014 | 11:43:17 AM
The ADEA field of dreams
Here's a test. Go back to 1999 and take a look at the number of IT professionals 45 years old or older.   Now go to 2010 and tell me how many of those same individuals where still in the IT field.   I'm betting the majority where not and those that still were had career slumps.  This at a time when the labor department predicted high demand and still does.  Beginning in the mid-1990s IBM started firing employees age 50 and up.  These employees (about 50,000) filed a class action lawsuit against IBM.  The case went to the US Supreme Court where they found in favor of IBM.  The judges ruled that as long as all employees 50 and up were being treated the same there was no violation of ADEA.  In 2001 IBM again fired older workers but this time used the age of 40  and up (about 20,000) and again a class action suit was filed and again the Supreme Court found in IBM's favor.  The 1967 ADEA law isn't worth the paper it's printed on according to the Supreme Court.
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
7/7/2014 | 1:30:44 PM
Re: The IDEA field of dreams
I have an online acquaintance with someone who worked in IT for decades. When his last job ended, he said he really didn't believe he'd have a shot at a new one, as he was already 62. In truth, in other fields, it also can be difficult to find a new job at that point, but IT, in particular, is often associated with younger people in the minds of some of the gatekeepers. 
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
7/7/2014 | 1:49:26 PM
Let them Know
Looking at your Table 1, I see regular increases in salary for IT staff until age 45 or so. After 45  ....  Flat. The problem is that, human nature being what it is college age people have (and want!) very little contact with us older folks. They don't realize, or believe, that they are going massively in debt and spending the best years of their life entering a career path that, for most of them, will lead to a dead end.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/7/2014 | 2:12:23 PM
Re: Tw o Comments
@Number6: There's a definite gap in the government stats. The BLS provides broad unemployment data broken down by age ranges, and the Occupational Employment Statistics provides a breakdown by industry sector but does not have demographic information such as age or gender for those specific industry categories. I'll keep digging. Meanwhile, here are some stats about what the OES calls "computer and mathematical occupations." This information was updated April 1, 2014 for calendar year 2013:

http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_stru.htm#15-0000

To your second point, I have heard from many sources that age discrimination is rampant in IT.

What I don't know is what it looks like.

Let's go beyond what's spelled out by law: Tell us what you've seen or experienced in IT that you felt was indicative of age discrimination.

 
BigUglyMike
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BigUglyMike,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/7/2014 | 2:17:20 PM
Age discrimination DOES exist
First I am an old timer in programming having started with Assembler under DOS-360 in 1969. Since then I have worked hard at staying current with systems and languages and even earning an MS-IS from Penn State in 1999.

I was working for Shared Medical Systems programming on IBM 'Z' and AS-400 systems along with C on some UNIX system when we were bought by Siemens. I was laid off in October 2001, just 3 weeks shy of my 55th birthday, along with 95 other folks - mostly male and almost all over 45. The '95' is important because by being under 100, federal and state reports are not required.

For the next several years I stayed busy doing contract work and teaching programming as an adjunct at both 4 year and community colleges.


In 2007, at age 60, is was hired by the local transit agency. They were in need of someone what had VAX, UNIX and Windows experience - all of which I posses. A new co-worker who was 58 informed me that at my age I will NEVER get a promotion which has proven to be true. Many young folks with both less education and experience have been promoted above me. My only downfall has been age.

Soon it will not be relavant as I plan to retire in a couple of months when I turn 68.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/7/2014 | 2:34:10 PM
Re: The IDEA field of dreams
@DDURBIN1: And if that's not depressing enough, have you seen this: "The Brutal Ageism of Tech."

In reseraching this piece, I fell down a rabbit hole in looking at laws in other countries related to ageism. The general consensus in the legal profession is that the U.S. has some of the best age discrimination laws in the world! No small consolation considering the examples you site, and the stories I hear anecdotally any day.

In my experience these issues are not exclusive to IT; I know folks of all job descriptions over 40 who have suffered career slumps or outright unemployment since 1999. Anecdotally specaking the economic upheaval of the early 2000s seems to have affected the over-40 population very dramaticlaly, despite the slightly more positive picture painted by the recent employment stats.

Do you think we'll see a turaround as the economy improves? Will experience every have value again in our tech economy?
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/7/2014 | 2:38:52 PM
Re: The IDEA field of dreams
@Ariella: I've heard similar stories, and across many different industries. Though it seems particularly acute and perhaps more blatant in tech these days. Your friend has  my sympathies, and I find it rather ridiculous that one is not valued for their experience. The assumption I see made also is that older employees are not as agile and flexible in their thinking and in my experience that is 100% NOT the case. I've encountered employees of all ages who were agile and I've encountered plenty of younger employees who were extremely rigid in their thinking and completely in capable of ciritical thinking or function on their own without being told what to do.

Job Perfromance has so much more to do with mindset and attitude than it does with physical age. And that is true for all geneations.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/7/2014 | 2:46:24 PM
Re: Let them Know
@Gary_EL: That flattening of salaries is indeed disturbing, and of course it is based on a median. There are also variables such as region of the country that are not accounting for. Nonethelss, overall it's quite evident that there is a hard stop to one's earning potential in IT, and anyone who has incurred educational debt should be aware that the opportunities to earn do have their limits. I am ambivalent about these results. On the one hand, it depresses me that those over 45 don't appear to have any great opportunities for advancement. On the other hand, I can see where a company would need to create some baseline limits for salaries across an organizaiton, so perhaps those over 45 are just hitting the ceiling as far as earnings opportunites go in the field.

What interests me most about our salary survey results is the  number of people who have served in positions outside of IT, and I think that as we move to an increasingly digital business model, those who begin their careers in tech may have more oportunities than those who came before them to cross over to the business side of things. One CIO friend of mine was named VP of Sales at his organization when he was in his late 40s because of the work he'd done improving sales operations thru tech.
sferguson10001
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sferguson10001,
User Rank: Moderator
7/7/2014 | 3:23:47 PM
Re: Let them Know
@Susan: is there any sense from the readers, or the surveys that you write about, of people going to actually complain about this in a legal way? Do IT managers have conversations with the HR department about these issues? Do they try and bring a lawsuit against the employer when discriminated against? How hard is it to prove what people are saying?
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