Discrimination common for IT applicants: survey

Discrimination against older and female IT workers is still prevalent in the workplace, according to a survey of industry professionals.Results of the Australian Computer Society's (ACS) annual ICT employment survey found 20 percent of respondents claimed they had been discriminated on the basis of age at some time in their career.

Discrimination against older and female IT workers is still prevalent in the workplace, according to a survey of industry professionals.

Results of the Australian Computer Society's (ACS) annual ICT employment survey found 20 percent of respondents claimed they had been discriminated on the basis of age at some time in their career.

Over 900 ACS members completed the survey. The Society has about 14,000 members.

Of those IT workers discriminated due to their age, the survey found those aged 45 years or older to be the most likely victims.

As a result, many of these workers were self-employed.

This could not be allowed to continue, according to the ACS.

"As the population ages and skilled workers become scarcer it will be important to ensure workers do not face age discrimination,"
said the ACS in the survey.

"We cannot afford to assume that people will be prepared to take the self-employed option to continue to meet the needs of ICT employers."

ACS president Philip Argy said the level of discrimination was concerning.

However, he was hopeful an industry code of ethics could reduce the problem, with support from state governments. The ACS issued a national statement on ICT issues for state governments earlier this year, and is trying to find support.

The level of age discrimination in the industry had fallen when compared with the 2004 survey though. Almost 30 percent of respondents to the 2004 survey had experienced age discrimination. This was not measured in the 2005 survey.

Also common in the 2006 survey was sex discrimination, with 37 percent of female respondents claiming their gender had created problems at the workplace.

These female respondents were "more likely" to be hourly contract workers or students, said the survey.

Only 1.3 percent of male respondents cited sex discrimination experiences.

Other findings of the survey included ICT unemployment levels falling to 5.1 percent.

This was the lowest level in many years, according to the ACS, only 0.3 percent above the national average unemployment figure.

Almost 70 percent of survey respondents were full-time employees.