Once Australian job seekers reach the age of 50, they start to hear similar feedback from potential employers – one of the most common being they are too old to learn technology.
“Being discriminated against because of your age, whether young or old, is ageism,” Marlene Krasovitsky from The Benevolent Society says, “Particularly in those over 50, they may be told, or it’s implied, that they’re too old to learn new technology and thus won’t get a position or won’t get promoted.”
“Age discrimination is also illegal.”
In a survey of 1,005 people, 32 per cent said there was a perception that older people could not learn new technology.
“Ageism is so entrenched in the workplace and in our lives, people don’t even realise when they’re being discriminated against. It’s almost as though it’s accepted, especially when it comes to technology.”
Krasovitsky said people are told “you’re not up with the latest tech”, “Why should I invest in training you as you’re too old” and “you’re not able to learn new technology.” Almost half of people surveyed had seen “or been confronted” with “older people don’t want to learn new things”.
Several studies have shown that people in the technology industry themselves experience ageism, including a recent cull by IBM.
“The idea that older people can’t learn new things or new technology is absurd,” Krasovitsky said says.
Krasovitsky points out that people over 50 used to use typewriters – they now use computers. They went from using carbon paper to scanning and emailing documents. They’re using social media in a big way – Facebook (70 per cent of people over aged 55 use it), Instagram and Twitter (21 per cent of people over 50 use it), LinkedIn (24 per cent of people over age 50). In fact, people over 55 are the second biggest demographic on Facebook.
“[So] Why does this perception exist?”
Krasovitsky says changing attitudes and behaviours will, unfortunately, take time.