IT workers trade union Amicus is sending a birthday card to Microsoft chief Bill Gates to congratulate him on the "rare feat of working in the IT sector beyond the age of 50".
The gesture highlights the results of a survey of 500 IT workers by the union, which showed that age discrimination is a major problem for IT workers of all ages. Next year legislation will come into force outlawing age discrimination.
According to the survey, one-third of respondents had been put off applying for a post because of the wording of the job advertisement. Words or phrases cited by respondents such as "young", "dynamic", "funky" and "would suit graduate" were felt to be used to deter older workers.
Younger workers also felt discriminated against. One worker said younger staff were treated like children and not taken seriously by management. Another young worker said they were passed over for promotion and told lower pay was justified for being younger and having fewer responsibilities than older staff doing the same job.
"Companies are going to have to get their house in order," said Peter Skyte, national officer at Amicus. "Talent and experience is being lost because of managers' stereotypical views, such as younger workers may be unreliable, or older workers find it difficult to gain new skills."