Concerns that the annual "milk round" for recruiting IT graduates could breach forthcoming age discrimination laws have been supported by a Department for Trade & Industry consultation paper.
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As reported in Computer Weekly earlier this year, the Association of Technology Staffing Companies (Atsco) is concerned that the European Union's Age Discrimination Directive will make life difficult for IT recruiters. The law is due to come into effect in October 2006.
Atsco chief executive Ann Swain said, "The majority of new graduates are in their early twenties and, as milk round programmes usually only consider applicants one or two years out of university, the practice in its current form is ageist and would be contrary to the new laws."
The DTI paper confirmed this and advised employers to ensure they are open to applications from older candidates. "It will be easier for employers to justify indirect discrimination in recruitment drives at universities provided employers do not exclude applications from other sources," it said.
Employers often fail to hire people who are more than a year or two out of university because older candidates lack a recent indicator of their ability, such as a degree, Swain said. Companies find the graduate milk round is the easiest way of bringing large numbers of new people into IT, she added.