Mainframe Propeller Head

Aug 31 2010   3:41PM GMT

Old people, the door is over there

Ryan Arsenault Ryan Arsenault Profile: Ryan Arsenault

Interesting article from Vivek Wadhwa posted over at TechCrunch. It details the paradox of the droves of unemployed engineers ready to pounce at a job and the companies who say they’re having a difficult time finding the right talent. Wadhwa notes that the reason for this conundrum is the one that companies don’t want you to hear: if you’re old, you’re not getting the job over young, cheap labor.

Wadhwa says that the young can learn new technology faster, can get paid less and don’t carry any baggage – both of the personal kind, with families that take away from long hours, and technology-wise – young people are a “clean slate” that can be molded and changed.

Holding to the fact that IT is an “up or out” profession, Wadhwa ends with some advice for IT professionals – either move up the ladder into management positions, switch to sales or take your skills elsewhere and run a start-up.  And if you’re going to stay in programming, says Wadhwa, make damn sure to keep skills as current as possible and realize that the odds are against you to make a boatload of cash down the line; companies can always find an entry-level worker to train on the cheap.

The article certainly makes a ton of sense from a corporate standpoint – companies are always looking for ways to cut costs, especially in a down economy, and there are plenty of young programmers who would jump at a chance to get their foot in the door. But it also shortchanges and cheapens the skills and leadership that seasoned IT engineers bring to the table.

What do you think? Is IT like modeling, with time and age working against you? Is there a method to the IT job market structure – a “game” you have to play to stay relevant? Leave a comment or reply on Twitter at @datacenterTT.

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