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Ageism in tech; do employers prefer younger employees?

In 2017, the median age of a developer in the US was 31 compared with 28 worldwide.

Seven of the 18 largest tech companies have a median employee age of 30 for younger employees.

Some of the Older candidates doctor their resumes and LinkedIn profile pictures to look youthful.

76% of Baby Boomers and 91% of Gen Xers got more proficient with tech utilization due to the prolonged remote working situation caused by the pandemic.

Ageism is a hot-button issue in recruitment. The constant demand for talents makes one wonder if it is due to a lack of talents in the job market. Or an outcome of the continuous evolution of new technology that results in an increasing number of job openings in tech companies. A study by Visier discovered that recruitment in tech favors young candidates. There is a trend of hiring Millennials over Gen X candidates (born between 1965 and 1980).

The University of Gothenburg conducted an in-depth study on tech workers of varying ages from Bangalore, Barcelona, Berlin, Houston, Silicon Valley, and Tel Aviv. The results show that the term "old" is related to workers from the age of 35 downwards. The rate of promotion for tech workers decreases continuously with age.

A study by Payscale showed that 15 top tech companies in Silicon Valley have a median employee age between 29 and 33, and only three companies had median employee age above 33. While other non-tech industries in America, the median employee age is 42.

According to ILO, there was a significant fall in youth employment, with 75 million out of work in 2012. However, things turned with the rise in new technological innovations and advancements. Today, youths are at the forefront of information technology and are drivers of trends and growth in the tech industry.

Age Discrimination in the tech industry

Age discrimination, otherwise known as ageism, in the workplace occurs when workers are denied opportunities because of their age. It is the act of excluding people of particular age groups from accessing provisions or opportunities that apply to everyone. An example is the deprivation of aged job seekers of job opportunities and denial of old employees' promotions.

Findings on the perception of hiring managers towards aged job seekers (45+) revealed that hiring managers believe aged job seekers are

  • application unready

  • not having the best experience, and

  • are not the best fit for the culture

One of the ways age discrimination plays out during recruitment is that after you submit your resume, you are requested to fill out a form that asks age-related questions about your birth date or graduation date. This pattern of questions disqualifies job seekers if the employer decides they're not interested in applicants of a certain age.

Age discrimination puts the older workforce at the risk of unnecessary struggle to get to the peak of their careers, compete for new positions, or apply for new jobs.

Young employees

The tech industry has significant perks, demands hard work, and the continuous evolution of new skills.

The United States has the most prominent tech market in the world.

Young employees form the largest population of the workforce in the tech sector.

These young employees are the Millennials and Gen-Z.

Gen-Z, a generation born between 1997 and 2009, is known as a digital generation and the most diverse generation compared to preceding generations. Gen Z is young adults between 16 and 24.

Gen-Z makes up about 30% of the entire global population and with predicted to represent 20.2% of the US population by 2022.

According to CompTIA analysis, 22% of all workers in the labor force across all industries are 25 to 34 years old. But in the IT workforce, it is 28%.

The employment rate in the USA among young adults (age 16-24) was at 45.9 percent in 2020. By 2025, Gen Z will make up about 27% of the workforce in America. By 2030, Gen Z will constitute 30% of the global workforce. A study estimates the Gen Z buying power at $44 billion in the US.

According to TeamStage, 35% of the US workforce are millennials and will represent 75% of the global workforce by 2025.

This high-flying generation doesn't only get the job done but takes responsibility for the job effectively.

Gen­er­a­tion Z is regarded as the native technology user because they are into digital living. They are the direct beneficiary of accessible and increasingly ubiquitous technological advancement. Where­as, Mil­len­ni­als (1981 and 1996) are the dig­i­tal pio­neers who came of age during the internet explosion.

The technical know-how trait of young people, and their digital living, provides them with an abundance of information at their fin­ger­tips. Thus, they are motivated and quick to learn to broad­en their knowledge and be proactive. Young people are predicted to work 18 jobs across six careers and live in 15 homes in their lifetime.

Young people are high technology enthusiasts. They are eager to jump on new technologies and learn how to use them like a pro. The first attempt at learning how to use technologies is mostly through self-learning.

Many young people learn how to use the latest technology in a self-taught manner to get a means of livelihood, improve learning, and qualify for jobs. Their constant use of technology and digital living helps them learn valuable skills without realizing it.

Tech companies consider young people a valuable asset because they embrace new inventions and constantly chase the most up-to-date technology. Young employees are creative minds and eager to introduce new ideas to create something bigger and better.

Older workers

According to the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging, the number of workers aged class 65 to 74 will grow by 4.2 percent annually and the number of workers aged 75 and above by 6.7 percent annually.

Older workers in tech companies are called Gen X ( 1965-1980), the second top workforce in America, with a labor population of 53 million workers, and the Baby Boomers (1946-1964). However, a study of tech workers in Silicon Valley shows that workers in their 30s begin to get the old employee label. That means that even as a millennial, you are at the risk of experiencing age discrimination.

Old employees are experienced workers who have spent a reasonable number of decades in service. Old employees make up the group of the sidelined workforce in tech industries. It is because tech companies prefer to hire and retain young people.

Tech companies may not feel inclined to hire people in their 40s and above. Employers assume older people are less tech-savvy than younger people and avoid career development training. Employers also believe that old employees will require more money and might be unwilling to work long hours and be productive.

In addition, compared to younger people, old workers experience challenges such as inadequate training or upskilling opportunities, working with poor health conditions and disabilities, and preparing financially for retirement.

Most people believe old employees are too old to understand and manipulate technology like younger employees. Also, there is a notion that old workers do not have the physical energy to undergo consistent skill acquisition, work long hours, and cope with a busy work schedule.

However, studies have shown that older workers, like the Millennials, find using work tech tools comfortable. The work tech tools are;

  • Core Microsoft Suite programs

  • Google Workspace services, and

  • Popular videoconferencing and communication tools.

What are the benefits of hiring older workers?

Experienced workers

Experience leads to growth and change. Older people in the workforce have gone through different phases of experiences in their career paths. The experiences of old workers can be valuable knowledge that is resourceful for critical thinking and problem-solving projects or fostering effective productivity in the workplace.

Long years in the workforce imbibes skills on the right questions, actions, engagement, and decision-making, which gives older workers an edge over younger workers.

Loyal and reliable

Older workers, especially the boomers, are perceived to have a job-centered mindset and are loyal to their jobs. They are more concerned about their job security than making more money. It is because of the need to achieve career goals and financial success geared towards a retirement plan.

Business acumen

Due to their years of experience, old employees have the knowledge to foresee, recognize, analyze, and solve business issues. Their experiences also instill in them the skills to strategically approach and apply their knowledge to solve business problems, make decisions, and take action. They also have knowledge regarding a wide range of tools and software that are effective for business.

Strong network

One of the benefits of working for decades is that one is opportune to meet and build a network of personal connections from different works of like and positions. A strong network is one of the perks of hiring older workers.

Older workers have a network of industry leaders, professionals, and customers that could be assets to achieving business goals and projecting an organization's brand.

Great professional skills

Older employees express exceptional professional skills due to the skills acquired and practiced for decades. Their cutting-edge skills enable them to thrive in senior and middle management positions. Older workers overtime develop high proficiency in soft skills like;

  • communication

  • dependability

  • adaptability

  • critical thinking

  • problem-solving

  • work ethic

  • leadership

What are employers looking for when hiring young workers?

Tech companies are known for their interest in hiring young employees due to their skills and attitudes that contribute to a growing company striving for tremendous success. What qualities do hiring managers want from young job seekers?

Key elements employers look out for when they hire young employees are:

  • Drive and passion for technology

  • Adventurous and full of physical energy

  • Creative and critical thinkers

  • Employability and tech skills

Why is age diversity important in the tech industry?

There are four generations in the global workforce - Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z. Each generation possesses distinctive personalities, beliefs, values, preferences, and work styles. Having generational diversity in the workplace will create a work environment with diverse talents and experiences.

The benefits of hiring young people and older people are;

  1. The consistent flow of new and unique ideas from young employees and knowledge on strategic business approaches from older employers.

  2. Hiring old and young workers can influence or motivate older workers to acquire additional training.

  3. Age diversity means an inclusive work environment. It fosters positive relationships among co-workers, which is necessary for boosting productivity in the workplace.

  4. Hiring and retaining older workers can help employers maintain valuable skills and experiences.

  5. Older employees can provide mentorship to younger co-workers on making effective business decisions. Young employees can motivate older employees to be more tech-savvy.

Visit our blog to read about tech jobs with great pay.


Aging generations will grow to become old. Americans who are 55 or older will make up nearly a quarter of the country's workforce by 2026. Tech companies should accept diversity and desist from ageism to prevent economic implications.

A company with a culture of hiring young employees only; is at risk of denying itself a diverse and unique team.

Learning has no age barrier. Old employees can also learn new skills like other employees and undergo additional training to function at a high capacity.

Companies can design training on technology utilization to suit their preferred learning methods and pace.

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