Ageism rife in IT industry

Nearly 40? If you're in IT, you're nearly past it according to a new report

Ageism is alive and well in IT according to a survey released this week, although mounting evidence suggests the UK is suffering a severe skills shortage in the sector.

The survey, commissioned by the Employers Forum on Age and and carried out by the European Information Technology Observatory and IDC, polled 1,400 IT professionals. Two thirds said they were worried they would be too old to employ by 45. A quarter said at 40 IT workers were classified as "older workers" with some thinking the moniker could be applied as early as 35.

Despite the concerns however, the study indicates that most IT recruitment companies do not realise age is a significant factor for companies hiring staff.

A spokesman for the Employers Forum on Age says that discrimination may not always be obvious. "It's cultural thing. The IT sector is traditionally very young, but the irony is that there is a bigger demand for skills in this sector than anywhere else," he says.

The survey also indicated that the government, which has been trying to promote equal employment for all ages with a Voluntary Code of Practice in recent months, is failing to get its message across within the IT sector. The majority of respondents said they were unaware of the program and also thought the government should be doing more to prevent age discrimination.

The Employers Forum on Age says the government could do more. "The government should promote its code of practice," says the spokesman. "Awareness is very, very low."

The figures will undoubtedly frustrate those keen to see investment in IT. An industry report in August found that eight out of ten IT managers now see recruitment as one of their three top problems.

To have your say online click on the TalkBack button and go to the ZDNet News forum.

Let the editors know what you think in the Mailroom. And read what others have said.