Age discrimination in tech industry becomes a global phenomena

In China, high skilled tech workers become unemployable as early as 30 years old.

“Most people in their 30s are married and have to take care of their family—they’re not able to focus on the high-intensity work.”

Source: China’s Tech Industry Wants Youth, Not Experience – Bloomberg

Personal note – I graduated in 2012 with an M.S. in software engineering (GPA 4.0, thesis on Android and smart device power management). I already had an M.B.A. and a B.S. in computer science and had worked in Silicon Valley, at Microsoft and for other organizations. I had 3 degrees – in fact, the top 3 most in demand degrees in the United States at the time.

After completing the M.S., I applied for jobs. I did not receive a single response. Not one.

I was unemployable in tech because of age.

When the tech industry tells you they do not discriminate on the basis of age they are straight up lying. Former colleagues were dismissed because of age (one received a large settlement from his former employer).

The latest fads in tech are almost always short lived. Having 10 years experience is a negative – no one needs someone experienced in tech that is fading. What they want is a constant influx of young talent fresh out of college and trained in the latest fad. (I was fresh out of grad school but I was not young.) There is a presumption that older workers, bogged down with family life, cannot learn new technology (earning an MS in software engineering in my 50s proves that assertion wrong).

The tech sector is a mess from a career standpoint and is why I discourage young people from pursuing “high tech” (which has become a synonym for software). I encourage youth to consider other fields of engineering and science where they can put software skills to use.

Tech’s problem with age discrimination has been around forever. Growing up in Silicon Valley, my neighbor’s house was inhabited by 3 engineers, in sequence. Every one of them was laid off by age 30 and all left the field. Nothing has changed.

The H-1B and OPT visas staff about 3 million positions in the U.S. (almost all in high tech and most in software). These worker visas are temporary – after up to 6 years of work, they too are expendable. We have institutionalized the consumption of young tech talent. Neither of these visas is an immigrant visa – if we require more tech talent from abroad, we should be granting permanent residency visas but we are not. Its because we need a constant stream of young talent to be treated as a consumable commodity.

That companies can intentionally discard half or more of the potential work force tells you that the field has a surplus of workers, not a shortage. The only “shortage” is of young tech workers but this is a manufactured shortage.

From an employment and career standpoint, this is a mess but it seems to work great for shareholders so this status quo will remain.

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