Technology – an age thing? Some random thoughts

Written by Woodsy on 09 Oct, 06
Focus on city challenges

Today The Register has a thought-provoking article about youth, age and technology. Its speculates how will the jobs market cope with accommodating both the less technically gifted older workers (presumably those in their 50s like yours truly) with the influx of younger workers who have grown up with the PC/web/instant messenging/blogging/mashing culture of the 21st century. Another factor discussed is the frequent over-estimation of the IT skills of older workers by employers.

Needless to say, this got me thinking.

From my perspective the situation is not as simplistic as the author of The Register article seems to believe. True, there are plenty of older workers whose IT skills leave much to be desired. On the other hand, there’s a large group of graduates who had their first experience of computing over 3 decades ago – and I’m not referring solely to the first wave of computer science graduates. I’m a modern languages graduate, but my alma mater in its infinite wisdom decided we should study additional subjects so that we did not get too specialised. In the 2nd year this was ‘computer appreciation’. Yes, a bunch of language students was let loose to play with the college mainframe – a large beast kept in its own air-conditioned space, with disc drives standing 1 metre tall, and with which one communicated by keyboard or punch cards.
That makes a third aspect to consider, but to this should also be added a fourth and one which involves the younger generation this time. Although we may have a very technically savvy younger generation in general, there will be those who will be left behind since they happen to be on the wrong side of the digital divide. According to a recent Evening Post article, this is already occurring, according to a survey of local teachers which found that 67% believe that more than half of their pupils have home internet access and that this benefits their skills and exam results.

It therefore seems to me that employers are going to have to cope for some years with both younger and older generations of workers with a broad spread of IT skills until some kind of equlibrium is reached.

If you have some less random thoughts, please add them in the comments form.

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