15 September 2016

lawrence jones verbier
I was surprised to read last week that one former engineer at Apple was declined a support job at one of its retail stores, after wanting to come out of retirement.

However, it is no surprise that this news has once again added fuel to the debate of ageism in tech. Tech is traditionally a young man’s game, and for the majority, when you talk about tech, the stereotype is a young man in a band or film tshirt or hoodie. Whilst the industry is trying to tackle the gender gap, the age gap isn’t discussed as much, which I think is a real shame.

When I set up UKFast, I was already older than the current median age of those working at tech giants like Google and Facebook. What would have happened if I’d become demotivated on our path into the industry, simply because I didn’t think I fitted the right profile?

I completely understand that many older workers might feel they aren’t able to compete with younger applicants. But why would we assume that those who are older no longer have an interest to learn new skills? Shouldn’t the older generation be encouraged to go for a career in tech?

On the one hand, it makes sense that there are more young people employed in the tech industry. It’s an industry that relies heavily on strong technical skills and knowledge, which makes it attractive to digital natives. Many of my team have grown up in a time of internet, which is where their interest in the sector has come from. They’re ‘digital natives’ and it’s second nature to constantly be connected.

But, on the other hand, the older generation bring skills that the new generation simply don’t have. For example, I think that verbal communication skills were significantly better before the internet. Now, we rely too much on texts, videos or tweets and avoid picking up the phone or meeting face to face – I see it every day with applicants at UKFast.

It would be a great shame for anybody who is passionate about what we do to feel put off from applying for a role here.

Life and business are about balance. Recruiting a diverse team takes a lot of hard work – at UKFast, we recruit on values first. We invite anyone who matches a job requirement to our assessment days, where we assess them on things like their ability to work as part of a team and their problem-solving skills, rather than their age or background.

Once someone joins our team, we offer continued training and education, no matter what age they are. Tech is such a fast-moving industry and, despite what the stereotypes might make you think, people of all ages require training to keep up with developments and industry trends.

What do you think?

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