Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Ageism in a period of very low unemployment?

The past two years have been a real education for me. I left my position as a CIO after working in higher education for over 30 years. I had no intention of retiring, and still don’t, but soon found that finding another opportunity at 60 is almost impossible. After talking with colleagues my age, I found that all felt that they had encountered ageism in their own search for full-time, part-time, or consulting work. All of the people in my straw poll are highly qualified, very experienced, professionals. They have had long and successful careers and are usually highly educated. Why in a period of 4.2% unemployment and a booming economy are we seeing that most companies and organizations are not seeking out this treasure trove of experience? All of the older professionals I have talked with are interested in working, have flexible schedules, and are willing to negotiate on compensation. Some don’t need health care or other traditional benefits.

I have an idea why there is resistance. Some may believe that older workers will not be committed or will not be around for the long term or are not technologically savvy. This is less true than ever. Keep in mind that younger employees often move on to the next opportunity when something looks a bit better. In our society people can expect to live until their 80’s and be fit to work in many fields until at least 70. Organizations need to wake up and realize that older professionals are exactly what they need and can afford. Stereotypes are bad for everyone.

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