Shy, Retiring

Last week I flipped my LinkedIn status to semi-retired, acknowledging a state that has actually existed for some years. Three quarters of the UK’s senior (age 50+) IT workers are unemployed. As the years pass and the gaps in employment get longer it gets harder to find a recruiter who will even return a phone call.

This isn’t a new situation but there is a sign that it can’t go on much longer. In the past the solution to finding (cheap) new technology skills has been to import them. In my lifetime this started with importing West Indian transport workers and more recently Polish plumbers. In IT we have been relying on India and Eastern Europe to provide new graduates.

The growing resistance to immigration, if it continues, will restrict UK companies’ freedom to import workers. Paradoxically Brexit will make the situation worse because we will need to import several hundred thousand IT workers to make it happen just when the brexiteers expect immigration to go down.

In theory we have age-discrimination legislation but it isn’t enforced. For instance it is still quite common to see the requirement for a degree in job specifications. As the probability of having a degree correlates strongly with age this is covered by the regulations on indirect discrimination and has been since 2008. Adding “or equivalent experience” to the specification makes it legal but we really should be taking active measures to expose employers who don’t implement that change.

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