back to article Survey: Tech workers are terrified they will be sacked for being too old

Almost half of tech workers in the US, like Hollywood stars, live in constant fear that age will end their careers, according to a new poll. Job website Indeed.com surveyed more than 1,000 employed tech workers and found that 43 per cent of respondents expressed concern about losing their job due to age. And 18 per cent said …

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What companies forget...

...is those boring oldies, with annoying families and mortgages are the least likely ones to piss off on the offer of a extra £1 a month.

Unless of course you treat them like dirt, then they are likely to go...Oh fuck it, lets sell the house and piss off somewhere nice where we are appreciated.

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Re: What companies forget...

We're far more likely to know our rights though and hold employers to the wording in our contracts.

Then again we're also far more likely to know about all the legacy cr*p the company refuses to replace due to costs..

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Boffin

Vinod Khosla

Vinod Khosla is proof positive that people over 45 basically die in terms of new ideas.

Everyone in Silicon valley knows Vinny hasn't had an original thought in at least 20.

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Re: Vinod Khosla

Most people in SV haven't had original thoughts. Rounded Corners is as good as it gets these days.

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Anonymous Coward

What it comes down to...

... is that older people have knowledge and experience counting against them.

Tech veterans have many years more experience and this can make them expensive. Inexperienced newcomers look like they work twice as hard - and this often obscures that they often achieve half as much.

People who have been working in the tech industry for 20+ years are less likely to entertain nonsense just because it is trendy, buzzword compliant and will impress investors, in large part because they know what the technology does and have been using it since decades before the newcomers are aware it even existed. Unfortunately, the primary objective of business is to make money, not produce a good product. The latter is more a coincidental means to an end.

Put that together, and an experienced worker will appear to not be as productive due to not being an extra keen yes-person, while calling out the obvious insanity of decisions that will not end up being obvious to the inexperienced peers and management for months or years. In the world where the longest term plans are made to the quarterly finance reporting dates, the short termist myopia makes them look like bad hires.

The modern tech industry is full of contradictions. Security is suddenly a buzzword, but only because business leaders have finally taken notice. Once upon a time, sysadmins used to care about it, but the brave new containerised world of curl | sudo bash agile devops utopia has pushed things hilariously past breaking points.

AI is a resurgent buzzword despite the fact that no significant scientific discoveries in the field of machine learning have been made in 20 years, and as Dominic Connor astutely put it, all we have is massively parallel stupidity masquerading as artificial intelligence.

Unfortunately, hiring managers don't want people who can see that something won't work. They want somebody who knows just enough to work hard on solving a problem that is doomed to fail, and keep the investor funding flowing as long as possible.

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Re: What it comes down to...

A+ on that comment AC.

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Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded

I am old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded.

Didn't half shock some people that I took to VMware like a duck to water whilst others struggled. Maybe that was because a decade or two earlier I had been there done that and had pre-sussed all the virtualization concepts.

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Pint

Re: Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded

Exactly. Heck, I still remember George.

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Re: Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded

Wow!!

Is that King George the First you remember ?

That would make you about 300 years old !!

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Re: Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded

Exactly. Heck, I still remember George

Maximop too?

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Re: Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded

Wow they had 1900 processors. Massively parallel!

Think we had one of those at Uni - just enough power to light the 'HARDWARE FAULT' sign that kept me entertained for 1/2 my computing thesis.

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Re: I still remember George.

Whippersnapper! *I* remember Automatic Operator!

Well, I remember finding the manual for it amongst some old paper tape reels.

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Re: Wow they had 1900 processors.

Nah. VME were 2900 series.

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Re: Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded

The one with virtualisation was George 3

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Re: Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded

And Minimop!

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Re: Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded

Beta on VMware Workstation marked my third time through. First off was from the Masters of the time, IBM. I'd follow them around like a very young puppy. Second go was on mi Amiga on which I did hardware and/or software virtualization as well as emulating damn near everything around, microcontroller up through all the current microcomputers, most minis and some mainframes. And most of that was my efforts at the time being handy with a soldering iron, buckets of parts, and test equipment far too expensive for my tastes, but provided by the government, even if they didn't know.

I do love to read engineering manuals and related books. What business managers don't get is that I've seen similar solutions found in any field of engineering, and having a dozen under my belt, it's damn likely I can translate from one to another field of engineering. If the hardware isn't available in this particular case, be damned if I can't do it in software. That's why you find the beating heart of a naval air station's financials is using predictive analysis/modeling seconded from a US Navy navigation set. Don't tell anyone.

Did I tell you I'm a book junkie? Describe what you're looking for, I'll reach behind my head, pull the right book and open it to the rough whereabouts of the solution happens to be. [Annoyed the fuck out of my fellow graduate students when I stopped by the uni to top up some more skills.] So, refactor? Yep. If nope, re-engineer? Yep. If no, then get down to some serious algorithms and data structures analysis and invention. That's happened exactly once. Treat code as parts out of the bin, you'll make less, usually no, mistakes.

Where it gets all kinds of fun, and this is where things go weird, is legacy to greenfield transitions. Creating the templates and the code to take one to the other is where detailed accuracy is a must. Used exactly once, has to be bullet-proof, especially from the managers wanting to change the requirements. I can serve as the lightning rod taking the heat from them as I'm not going to be there next week. 'Sides, I abuse as well as I get. Being blind to social shit is nice for this. Don't care how many stars you have on your collar or that you have a limo or private jet pick you up or drop you off.

Anyway, I'm not looking for a permanent gig anywhere. The tumbleweed life suits me far better on both sides. That's about to end. Work from bed is staring me in the face. Age & disability {sigh}. Been fun. Guess I find out about that kind of work.

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Re: Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded

From memory, you had the old George 3, the newer VME but they both ran under CME (Concurrent Machine Environment).

ICL - the company that liked to move against trends in computers, like making them faster as the years went by.

Bank I worked for, got rid of their old 2900's for some spanking new 3900's which were actually slower than their 20 year older counterparts!

Impressive!

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Re: Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded

@Loud Speaker: "The one with virtualisation was George 3"...

George 4, I think you'll find.

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Re: Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded

I'm old enough to have written some of George 3! Quite a lot of the SETPARAM code.

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Re: Old enough to have worked with the Virtual Machine Environment before VMware was founded

Not really. It depends what you mean by virtualisation. G3 had the SWAP file which allowed 'virtualisation of memory' and G4 improved upon that by dividing memory into pages so that you didn't need to swap entire programs in and out of 'core', but really VME was the first ICL virtualisation product - it allowed you, eventually, to run native VME alongside legacy stuff in DME mode.

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"experience and wisdom to share"

Yesterday one of my cow-orkers was running vimdiff inside screen over ssh when it "hung". I went over, first tried ^L (as you do), but that didn't help. ^Q did, however. I then had to explain XON / XOFF. Coincidentally I'm just reading ESR's Things Every Hacker Once Knew.

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Re: "experience and wisdom to share"

Yes, it is the little things, like Alt+Space+V+any arrow key, then move the mouse (V is German "Verschieben" - o for mOve in English?) in Windows, when a window disappears off the screen.

And having come from multi-user environments, where code had to be tight, it is often interesting to see how "young guns" code. They often have no appreciation for optimization, it runs fine with one user on their test rig, but load the code up onto a server and let several hundred customers use it at the same time and the whole thing grinds to a halt! 10 minutes pouring over the code later and I had re-written to queries to be SQL friendly, when not exactly human friendly, the result was the query dropped from over 60 seconds to under 0.03 seconds... That was on my second day as a temp at the company, but got me a full time contract.

At the moment, I seem to spend half of my time doing my work and the other half correcting the mistakes of the millenials in the department...

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Re: "experience and wisdom to share"

"You can't just turn the thing off, then on, and expect it to work... unless you know what you're doing."

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Re: "experience and wisdom to share"

The closest I've seen to "young buck" optimization was a lad who didn't put any white space, line numbers, comments, etc. into his code as they slowed things down. I was just one long line... maybe 4 to 10 printed pages worth. Took about 3 days to prove to him that he was wrong and then another 6 months on how to optimize his code. <sigh> I don't miss coding these days except for personal use.

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Re: "experience and wisdom to share"

sprograms, I think you meant to type:

A novice was trying to fix a broken Lisp machine by turning the power off and on. Knight, seeing what the student was doing spoke sternly: "You can not fix a machine by just power-cycling it with no understanding of what is going wrong." Knight turned the machine off and on. The machine worked.

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Anonymous Coward

Age is but a number.

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I am not a number, I am a free man!

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Joke

"Age is but a number."

Spoken like a true 1970's tv personality.

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I am not a number, I am a free man!

Imagine my delight when I got home and saw that this had been given 6 up votes!

And then someone spoiled it by adding a seventh a minute later. Pah! Have you no sense of history?

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Age is but a number.

Why can't young people understand that old people are just young people who are older in age?

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Pirate

Re: Age is but a number.

"Why can't young people understand that old people are just young people who are older in age?"

Because that would require the young people to think about someone besides themselves for a second or two, and most of them do not have that capability in their skillset. It isn't called the "Me" generation for nothing...

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Yes, you are, Rich 11.

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Age may very well be a number.

Thankfully, mine's unlisted.

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Reply Icon I am not a number, I am a free man!

But your name is Rich 11?

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Happy

Re: Reply Icon I am not a number, I am a free man!

"But your name is Rich 11?"
And yours is Etatdame? A likely story...

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Experience?

Avoiding arrogant pronouncements about people with experience may help too

Quite true - experience can be of great value, but only when it is the right experience. Adolf had a lot of experience of running Germany by 1945.

In terms of ageing coders, the useful experience is decades of thinking, analysing, checking and testing, testing, testing - the procedures and processes for successful software development. Sod the precise coding language, I've used dozens, - the principles are the same for a phone App, a website or a COBOL payroll system.

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Re: Experience?

Exactly. I've used dozens of languages over the years.

Heck, I got a job as a website developer on the basis of having done half an hour of cribbing on PHP the night before starting as a temp, then the next day sorting out a bottleneck that had been driving the company nuts for months.

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Re: Experience?

My company had started seeing ghost digits on their multiplexed displays after updating to brighter displays. They tried all kinds of timing fixes that never worked, finally gave up.

After I was hired I spotted this, asked, was told, and had it fixed in 10 minutes. They were simply leaving the segment drivers on between digits. Took one line of code.

It wasn't visible on the dimmer displays so they assumed it was a problem with the newer ones. I walked in with a fresh viewpoint and, more importantly, more experience. I would never have made the mistake in the first place.

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Re: Experience?

Back when HTML was new and building the web pages new as well, knowing not a single bit about either, it fell to me to build the forum home pages for several fora on CompuServe. Hmmm... no one's put a stake through its heart yet. Anyhoo, you can blame me for the template and hierarchy that it evolved into, eventually.

I'll crawl back under my rock. Nice thing, rocks. Especially if you are a Rock-troll.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Experience?

My company had started seeing ghost digits on their multiplexed displays ...

Really, people haven't learned that on in the last ... ooh how many decades is it now ?

Back in the 80s when I was just a junior myself, one of my colleagues was doing some code for a new display. He had digit shadows and just couldn't understand why. It had never occurred to turn off the segment drivers before switching on the next digit driver - until I suggested he tried it.

And 7 segment LEDs weren't exactly new then.

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Angel

Automation since the 50s

Tech workers shouldn't be worrying, automation has be "taking our jobs" since the ability to automate came around. Since we have been working with the fear so long, we skill up and keep pace with progress.

There is more of a treat to business leaders, things that gave them value, such as vendor relations, b2b business, resource(human/capital) management, is being automated now. Barrel coopers just turned into kitchen fitters. Its the businesses that collapsed.

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Happy

Re: Automation since the 50s

> Resource (human/capital) management, is being automated now.

The progression is Personnel -> Human Resources -> Livestock Control...

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Anonymous Coward

Us old fogeys

are clearly not wanted in 'modern IT'.

despite the fact that we have the experience and the guts to say to the young upstarts,

"sonny, that won't work. It didn't work in 19** and still won't now."

Then we head off to pastures new (the pub around the corner, if it still exits that is) while the youngsters carry on regardless and discover that we were right.

If we are lucky, we get brought back in to fix it. Sadly that is a rarity these days.

After being made redundant last year, I went searching for a job. All I got were entry level positions at £25K if I was lucky. There was even the offer of work but on a zero hours contract. Not worth it really.

Sad fact of life for us over 60's.

Have to go now. I have some chickens that need clearing out and eggs to sort for market tomorrow.

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Re: Us old fogeys

Too true, although sometimes it works out.

When I first started, back at the end of the 80s, the company laid off a senior devops guy. He had been with the company 40 years and had a huge golden handshake... 3 weeks later the next month end came up and they realised that he was the only person in the company with any experience of nearly 40 different legacy systems.

He came back as a contractor to train up a replacement for the next 18 months and could set his own rates.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Us old fogeys

Contracting old chap. Late 50s and I don't put my age on my cv, or non IT qualifications, or dates for School or exam results (3 O levels was my lot). To be fair I look after myself and look 15 years younger, but my last four engagements were ten minute phone interview start in a week jobs.

I've been a 'tractor for the last 20 years and nobody ever gave me a hard time for being a bit crinkly here and there. In fact the only time I got an ageist remark was when I dabbled with a permie role four years ago. I offered to discuss it with him in the car park, MMA, Karate or Queensbury Rules - his choice. Fucker had no balls!

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Re: Us old fogeys

And ironically today there is another article about the shortage of talented IT staff that is expected to get much worse. The company I work for is rumored to be talking merger, and many people I work with (including myself) are concerned that being in our 50s will make it difficult to find new IT jobs if we become redundant.

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Thumb Up

Re: Us old fogeys

If you can afford it, do volunteer work IT for a local charity or three. They are crying out for people who have learnt over decades of experience that backup is a pretty neat idea (just one example)...

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Re: Us old fogeys

Plus, if you choose the org carefully, it can lead to good contacts, and a serious career boost.

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Re: Us old fogeys

Hmm, I am doing IT work for the charity I support. It doesn't pay anything, and I'm providing all the hardware. Plus custom software and possibly a website redesign. Not sure how that is going to put food on the table if I lose my job. And I have decades of experience already. Even so, I do recommend helping out local charities.

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Translation

When Megacorps say "young", they mean "cheap". Cheap is what they want, not yoof. They love cheap. Shareholders love cheap. Cheap boosts short term profits by reducing the wage bill, by far the biggest expense any megacorp faces. If a 64 Python dev would work for the same wages as a 24 year old, the older chap would get the job every time. More euphamisms:

"recent graduate" -> cheap

"free of family commitments who can work long hours" - no, just cheap

"digital native" -> cheap.

On the subject of "digital native", any grad born after '66 has spent their whole career in the Internet age, but lacks a certain skill, ie the ability to work for a very small wage indeed.

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