Unemployment need not be the fate of IT’s elders
Having written on sexism and racism previously, the summer nights have found me tossing and turning in bed thinking of three great things that happened in 1966.
To please the editorial team, they are in order of priority – Computer Weekly was published for the first time, England won the World Cup and, perhaps of lesser significance to most, I was born.
As the countdown to my 40th birthday begins, what is keeping me awake at night is the prospect of possible job-hunting in my forties.
Someone recently said I am approaching the 40 to 80 age group, and the well-publicised ageism issues make me want to agree with that extended grouping.
The elders of IT
IT views its “elders” as inconsequential once past a certain age, like “elderly” footballers who end up being relegated to lower divisions, although Teddy Sheringham, who turned 40 last season, scored quite a few goals for West Ham, justifying the faith they placed in him.
Also, remember the French World Cup team who were officially the oldest team in the 2006 World Cup tournament; most of their prayers were answered when they cruised to the finals.
Thankfully, a long overdue law tackling ageism is coming into force next month, making it unlawful to treat anyone less favourably because of their age. Although how anyone is going to be able to prove they have been denied an interview due to ageism is another question.
So what can those approaching “elderhood” do to avoid being labelled over the hill and dumped unceremoniously on the shelf while the industry continues to wring its hands and lament at the reduced number of people studying to enter an industry they perceive would not recognise their skills by the time they reach 40?
How to avoid labels
First, as unfair as it may sound, equip yourself with more qualifications than the 20-somethings vying for that position that would make them your boss. These qualifications and your experience should put you in good stead to compete on more level footing.
Secondly, leave your age off your CV when applying for a job so as to leave them guessing in the hope they guess wrong until you have been invited for an interview.
Finally, if you have been blessed with ample grey hair from your thirties like me, alas this is not a sign of wealth
as people from certain countries say, it is a sign of stress and growing old.
This is not the sin it is made out to be by many prospective employers. Rather, it is a reason to visit the hairdressers for that dye application prior to any interview you are privileged enough to be invited to.
With the government planning to force us to work until we die, the impending age discrimination laws should hopefully be sufficient to prevent us having to go and queue up for a job at B&Q in Macclesfield, where it has been proven that elders rule the roost.
Ibukun Adebayo is director of IT at social care organisation Turning Point
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