Ageism and the new work force.

Is it a good idea to hire older workers? It seems that there are a number of conflicting views on this subject. Some people feel that it is important to staff companies with younger less costly workers. We could call this the Mongolian hoard approach to staffing. Others would say that young new grads have skills that older workers don’t possess and they cost allot less. This is perhaps magnified in highly skilled constantly changing fields. When it comes to technology start-ups, I have found that it is important to have a balance.

In many cases the new grad argument is true and if you are careful who you hire, you can exchange new knowledge for experience and end up with the best of both worlds. Too many of one or the other can be a recipe for disaster. I have worked with a number of people like myself that never plan to retire because they are just having way too much fun. These types of people are always learning and sharing and will contribute as long as they can. The challenge is picking them out from the crowd.

One of the barriers for older people who want to remain in the work force is higher salaries. If you are a skilled worker you should be able to command a high salary. What you have to realize however is that if you want to change jobs or work in an area where your skills are not up to speed, you should be prepared to take a pay cut. Too many people in North America are either protected by unions or feel that the businesses they work for should continue to pay them a higher wage. This is just wrong.

Respect and Salary are things that we have to earn and justify constantly. Lazy people should make less. Managers that let their technical skills go, should make less. If you want to make more, learn more things and contribute to the success of the company you work for. Lately I have heard people complain that immigrants are willing to work for less and that this is wrecking our economy. I would refer you to my previous post on the importance of immigration.

Many of us that are old enough to remember the cold war era, know that socialism doesn’t work. Russia has evolved and the transition out of socialism was very difficult. The opposite side of the argument would be wide open capitalism and I would argue that it doesn’t work either. In Canada we have a variety of minimum wages to insure that workers are not taken advantage. Perhaps we need to expand those guidelines to provide further guarantees. What I am really trying to say here is that we need to promote a system where any qualified worker can get a job independent of age or any other factor that is not relevant.

A worker is not in a good position to determine what they should be paid. Jobs should have salaries attached and if you have the skills then you get the job and the associated salary. If you think you should make more, then acquire more skills and apply for a different job. If the employer cannot fill the job for the salary they want to pay, then they will have to pay more. The market should be the deciding factor. In order for this to work of course there can be no collusion between employers and that has to be enforced by law.

I’m prepared to acquire new skills at a lower salary and believe that everyone should have that opportunity. I am also prepared to leverage my experience and skills for a higher salary and I am prepared to change jobs if necessary. I believe that everyone should have the right to work.

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