Finding the work/life balance

The over-50s in our industry are very sensitive, and that's to be expected.



John Riley

The over-50s in our industry are very sensitive, and that's to be expected.

Their independence and anarchism made the IT industry what it is today.

That flood of hairy, scruffy but creative arts graduates who became analyst-programmers in the 1970s and '80s is now the current IT establishment.

Today, we all need to embrace the e-world. That world has different project cycles, different working patterns and requires a much broader range of skill sets, such as presentation and design. Above all it works at a faster pace.

But what's new there? Anyone who has been in the industry some time has learnt how to adapt to continual change and given time and space, can hack a step change if they want to.

Recent calls not to give up on retraining older IT people to new skills are misguided and misleading.

Maybe you can't convert a 50-year-old Cobol programmer into a Web designer overnight, but that's over-egging it.

You convert people to relevant skills compatible with their mindset. Creative people don't just stop being creative people.

The real issue facing both the user and supply side of the industry is that of work/life balance.

New graduates today see little attraction in the sweat-shop nerd culture endured by the 90s generation. The over-50s see through it.

This was last published in August 2000

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