I am 40 and have 18 years of programming experience in the industrial IT sector - with small firms that won't fund training. I feel I need to upgrade my skills and perhaps move into management. I am prepared to pay for an advanced computing masters degree (eg industrial computing) or would I be better off with Microsoft/Sun-style certification? Code warriors are assumed to be young, hence my desire to move away from the coding arena.
In the current market climate I believe employers are recruiting on proven track record, especially when it comes to management. In my experience there are some roles available where employers will be looking to specifically recruit new managers, however the final decision would also be based on a mix of personality and previous experience.
Your dilemma regarding whether to invest in further education and development should be partly based on what your preference is. Remember that new technical skills are only as good as the experience you have, so there is always a risk that an employer may not take your extra qualifications into account.
Whatever you choose, I believe it is invaluable to ask for some management experience at your current place of work. Not only will this give you some extra experience under your belt, but it will also give you a chance to decide whether you will enjoy a management role.
With regards to your final point about ageism in the industry, I do not believe that companies let the age of candidates affect their decision, they place importance on the employee being able to carry out their job effectively.
Solution by Charles Grubb, Computer People
The panel: MSB International, Best International, British Computer Society, Computer Futures, Computer People, Elan, Reed Computing, Zarak Technology, E-Skills UK