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Life stops at 40 in IT industry

Hazel Ward
Life stops at 40 for many IT professionals, a new survey has revealed. Despite the acute skills shortage facing the industry, one in three IT professionals claim they have faced discrimination within their company for being too old.

In a report from FirstPersonGlobal, the online arm of recruitment agency Harvey Nash, one in three of the 300 senior IT professionals interviewed claimed they had been discriminated against for being too old, despite their experience.

When asked about the age of IT professionals within their company, nearly two-thirds of respondents said most people were in their thirties. But the prospect of leading a professional life beyond 40 looked increasingly negative, with one in three respondents saying that IT professionals started to become unattractive to employers after the age of 40.

"The old in IT - those over 40 - are out of touch, always talking about 'how it used to be'," said one IT professional. "They think that just because they could code Cobol on a 360 machine, somehow that is relevant today."

Another ITer said, "IT is one of the few areas where the experience that can come with age is most likely to be dismissed as irrelevant."

Another blamed this attitude on the culture of UK business. "Ageism is a serious issue in the UK. It is not an issue in the Middle East, where age is respected and recognised as bringing value to the table. Hence I work in the Middle East now," he said.

However, discrimination cuts both ways. According to the survey, 12% of IT professionals have experienced discrimination at work because they were thought to be too young.

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