back to article Just 22% of techies in UK aged 50 or older, says Chartered Institute for IT

A little more than one in five techies in Britain is aged 50 or older, and enticing more of that demographic to enter the world of information technology could help alleviate a perennial skills gap. This is according to research by the British Computer Society (BCS), which reckons just 22 percent (413,000) of the 1.9 million …

  1. MJI Silver badge

    Got 3 here

    mid 70s, low 60s, high 50s.

    High 50s is the main developer for our current software.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Got 3 here

      How old are the other 1000 employees?

      1. b0llchit Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Got 3 here

        In the range 4...8 to keep the average at early mid twenties.

      2. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Got 3 here

        Very roughly - small business - guessing ages - missing a few

        Under 30 - 2

        30 - mid 40 - 5

        mid 40 to mid 50 - 2

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Got 3 here

          Small business.

          70, 75, 56, 55, 45

          Rest contractors as needed.

  2. steviebuk Silver badge

    Blame the management

    Who want to hire young folk who they know they can exploit and pay less. I asked in last place about getting developers in for the new software they had "Its fine, we'll just use interns" all because they know they can pay them peanuts. I don't know of any 50 year old intern.

    And then you have:

    "'We can only achieve the government's ambition for the UK to be the 'next Silicon Valley' by closing the digital skills gap and making this vital profession attractive to a far broader range of people," said Rashik Parmar MBE, CEO of the BCS."

    Ironic that he came from IBM the company that has been repeatedly sued for getting rid of older employees. I'm not claiming he had anything to do with that but that its just ironic.

    What I dislike about most articles in IT is there is always a CEO, Director blah blah spouting shit for self serving purposes. I never see comments from the local desktop engineer that happens to have a great idea but can't get to the director level due to not wanting to kiss arse.

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: Blame the management

      They underestimate the skills and experience needed or don't value it.

      I have been asked about development of a robust commercial grade IOT data storage, platforms, digital twins, and the like and a often asked question after hearing typical wages costs goes along the lines of, "can't we just get someone fresh from university to do it"?

      It's like that 5yrs of experience you don't want to pay for? That wasn't them sitting on their bum it's not a static job skill, they were actually learning and improving.

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Blame the management

        Young students have a lot of "skills" but will lack the long term "experience" of older people - but while that long term experience can be very helpful you can also see problems because our abilities (yes I'm old) don't have the skill of the successful students in the current environments that we never grew up in:

        "Oh look here's the code in FORTRAN that works reasonably well, your Python sucks" ... leads to "No problem, I can make it work perfectly with Python and fix that error for you"

        1. steviebuk Silver badge

          Re: Blame the management

          Don't get me wrong, the young students are skilled but they are being exploited. Not only that they are being lied to about an app they are coding in, that can be used elsewhere. Yes it is but hardly anywhere. When we were trying to learn it I knew it was a temp role for me so looked up jobs that required me to know this app. Nothing, not one job anywhere on the market was using it, required me to know it or was using it for coding any apps.

          I also remember they convinced one youngling over from another department. Told her how great an opportunity it would be blah blah "Do I get more money?" no. "Oh". She did it for a while and realised her manager was saying "Yes" to every app they were asking for his department to created. It was ridiculous as they didn't have enough staff to do each app properly. She realised this, realised the low code software was shit and not used elsewhere so said she was leaving.

          Eventually the manager of that department left also. What a shit show.

    2. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Blame the management

      I don't think there's any blame to assign. 50+ to pensionable age (65 for simplicity) is a 15-year span compared to 30-year span of ages 20-50. That means that I would expect no more than 33% of workers in 50+ bracket in any industry.

      Secondly 50-65 means born 1958-72, attending university or starting careers approximately between 1978-92. Given the explosion in popularity in personal computing, Internet usage and then in mobile telephony / computing starting in the mid-90s and accelerating, it isn't surprising that far more people would be studying IT-related subjects per year between 1992-2022 compared to 1978-1992. So in fact the 22% figure is wholly unsurprising, and I don't think in any way indicative of bias against older workers, nor does it mean that there is some huge untapped pool of 50+ IT workers that businesses can make use of. I would actually expect that most unemployed 50+ ex-IT workers are happily retired, having (a) had enough of this s**t (b) having worked through a period where IT expertise was scarce and companies were willing to pay well for that expertise and (c) realised that companies are no longer so willing to pay well for their expertise

      1. Falmari Silver badge

        Re: Blame the management

        @jmch you are right. That survey was for 2021. So 50-65 and a school leaving age of 16 would be 1973 to 1985, and a lot did leave school at 16 and most did not do degrees. Unlike today where employers expect youngsters to come out of education fully trained. so A levels vocational qualifications even degrees. Not many 16 year olds would have been planning a career in IT then.

        Because a) there were a lot less universities and b) a lot less degree courses. Unlike today where there will be a vocational degree course for any career you can think of. Employers don't believe they should train their staff they want others to train them at no cost to themselves.

        Today employers expect youngsters to come out of education fully trained. so A levels vocational qualifications even degrees .

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Blame the management

        I would actually expect that most unemployed 50+ ex-IT workers are happily retired, having (a) had enough of this s**t (b) having worked through a period where IT expertise was scarce and companies were willing to pay well for that expertise and (c) realised that companies are no longer so willing to pay well for their expertise

        (d) realised that "IT work" no longer means analysing specs and designing a proper solution that runs efficiently on the defined hardware, it means throwing together someone else's badly-written FOSS in an Agile way (i.e. no specs, minimal security, no testing, if-it-compiles-ship-it), to run on a virtual environment in the cloud that you have little control over, all managed by beancounters who think that "resilience" is what they get from the seat of their Mercedes. I packed it in, aged 60, when I could see that it wasn't going to be fun anymore. Early retirement is much more rewarding.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Blame the management

          in an Agile way (i.e. no specs, minimal security, no testing, if-it-compiles-ship-it)

          That's not Agile; it's just lazy, cheap, and stupid. Agile development can certainly include specifications, security from the start, and comprehensive testing. (Nor does Agile imply the use of open-source components.) Conversely, the majority of waterfall projects produce shit software.

          Blaming Agile methods for the poor quality of contemporary software development is simply lazy thinking. There are three primary problems with software development: developers, managers, and customers. Everything else is a symptom.

      3. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Blame the management

        I would actually expect that most unemployed 50+ ex-IT workers are happily retired, having (a) had enough of this s**t

        Count me in that category. When blithering idiots thinking that 'move fast and break things' is an acceptable replacement for solid analysis, planning and testing took over, I fucked off. I've not for one moment regretted it, and no amount of money or promises from Chancellor *unt could get me back.

    3. oiseau
      Facepalm

      Re: Blame the management

      Blame the management ...

      Not only the management, they are just the tool to do the work.

      There are CEOs, CFOs and shareholders involved.

      Back in another life (1995), working for a multi-national telco, I saw it first hand and also suffered it.

      The company started firing/laying-off or offering voluntary retirement type deals to experienced employees in their late 40's to late 50's only to replace them in a 2x1 and 3x1 ratio with early to mid 20's interns who, being still wet behind their ears, barely had clue about anything much.

      All this to take advantage of some hairbrained neo-con goverment scheme where the company could hire these young chaps, pay them a pittance and get steep tax breaks from the government for creating new posts.

      The new hires were then then replaced with others after six months as the tax breaks were only for hiring new employees and only for their first six months.

      And then it was rinse and repeat, over and over.

      O.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Blame the management

      I was 51 when I was made redundant at my last place of work.

      The software engineering director said I was too old to learn anything new and paid too much...

      He was of the opinion that any software engineer can replace any other.

      Well in 5 years he has failed to find a replacement and they have abandoned maintaining the product I was the lead developer and architect for.

      I'm really glad I got the push. I'm on 20k more with significantly less stress.

  3. 42656e4d203239 Silver badge
    Pint

    hmmmm

    The disparity in age profile might have something to do with an attitude in HR/Mahogany row that, apparently, "they can't adapt to new technology"

    The 50somethings have grown up with the internet as it expanded from its Darpa beginnings through dial up modems, ADSL in all its forms right through to FTTP; often they cut their teeth self assembling a ZX80 or 81 (OK or Altair, or Acorn Atom or Acorn System 1 or a Reasearch Machines 380Z - you know what I mean!) from a kit of parts; they know the excitement involved in opening the back of a VAX 11/750 whilst it is running and not welding themselves to the exposed 48V(?) DC high current rails; they have coaxed Novell Netware into playing nicely with Windows. They have made Windows 3.11 use TCPIP over a dial up connction and probably have several old machines, in semi-working order, propping up books which describe the fundamentals of networking, programming and hardware design.

    Startlingly - to Mahogany row/HR - oldies may also have any or all of a Chromebook, a Nintendo Switch, a PS3, 4 and 5, a smart phone (either Android or Apple or both), a gaming PC that melts the electricity meter when running at full chat, WiFi controlled light switches, remote door bells and networked CCTV and a car that pretends it can drive itself...

    Oldies tend know how it all works behind the scenes and have spent a lifetime adapting to new technology - why should being 50+ suddenly mean you are incapable of learning new technology? often you have an advatage because you actually do know how the now hidden parts work - back in the day things never JustWorked(tm).

    Anyway - cos its the 1st of December, and I seem to have been ranting, have a pint

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: hmmmm

      Two roots possibly showing from this post and the article.

      1) The median hourly wage for older techies is £25, which is 14 percent higher than for IT specialists as a whole. and

      2) As says 42656e.... says Oldies tend know how it all works behind the scenes

      IOW older employees cost a bit more and can't be manipulated. I'd also hazard a guess that this== not being too ready to jump unquestioningly into the latest new fad. The last thing managements ( in any field or profession) want is the old hand who can say "Yes but.." and shoot down a dumb idea. Especially in areas like IT and education where promotion comes from launching something new then buggering off before the waste matter impacts on the air moving device.

      1. spireite Silver badge

        Re: hmmmm

        In this respect, you're not wrong....

        As a 50+ oldie, who has done the Full Monty... as listed previously...

        I've found that my experience is both liked and disliked.

        Maybe it's because I stand up in a meeting and say - that's a bollocks idea (because they always are)? Some management like the fact someone has the balls to do that and be questioned. That said, in my early 40s I did that and the manager didn't want to be questioned at all and there was a massive bustup.

        Yet some (not all) management seem to think that because the nappy-rasher can do JS, React, Rust etc which is the 'in/upcoming thing', they are better placed to judge anything and everything architectural - even in tech they don't know (which I do know)

        It is just plain weird and dumb.

        1. blackcat Silver badge

          Re: hmmmm

          "I did that and the manager didn't want to be questioned at all and there was a massive bustup"

          BTDTGTTS. It is especially bad when you are dealing with a ladder climber who is desperate to show off to the higher ups.

          1. spireite Silver badge

            Re: hmmmm

            Said manager left the company two weeks later. HR didn't take kindly to his overreaction, and the fact I threatened to quit the following day no doubt contributed. Know your value........

    2. kpanchev

      Re: hmmmm

      Where do you know me from? And how do you know my car pretends it can drive itself? And to update, I have now powered off most of my computer farm, leaving only the essentials, in order to give the electric meter some breathing chance...

      The solar panels on the roof do help with this a bit...

      1. blackcat Silver badge

        Re: hmmmm

        I'd love to replace my collection of aged PCs that run my home automation with some rasp Pis but they are on mega lead time. It is a nightmare!

        1. spireite Silver badge

          Re: hmmmm

          What about the non-Pi like the OrangePI stuff? They the same on lead-time?

          1. blackcat Silver badge

            Re: hmmmm

            I've used them before but at the time the support was a bit 'meh'. Some compatibility issues and just not that fast for the specs. I had an orangepi running my 3D printer (octoprint) and moved to a Pi4 and it was so much faster and easier.

            I'll admit I've not looked at the orangepi specs/range for a while. Maybe worth a second look.

        2. Gene Cash Silver badge

          Re: hmmmm

          That's why you put in an order now and wait.

          Instead of just... waiting.

          And at least on this side of the pond, the quoted lead times have been exaggerated 2x-3x.

          1. blackcat Silver badge

            Re: hmmmm

            And let them sit on my cash? Nah! I'll keep hold of it for now.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: hmmmm

      Yes, yes very good. I agree with all of this. But will you work for less than a youngling who puts in more hours, gets the majority of the physical donkey work (racking kit etc etc).

      We need salaries in tech to look more like a bell curve than an S curve.

      I've managed to go 20 years in tech and put in a lot of hard grind and I've still yet to see these massive salaries people bang on about. I've done alright, and I'm still doing alright but for some reason between being young and being old you end up in a state of being neither cheap nor Jurassic level "experienced" you just generally don't appeal to employers. Mid career is where a lot of people jump off.

      1. David Hicklin Bronze badge

        Re: hmmmm

        >> less than a youngling who puts in more hours, gets the majority of the physical donkey work (racking kit etc etc).

        most of that stuff is outsourced to service providers theses days, I think it is a lot harder to get into the interesting IT that it was in the early days.

    4. AnotherName
      Windows

      Re: hmmmm

      Have you been reading my CV? ZX80 and Acorn Atom kits, written stuff in 6502 assembler and understand the way the processor works - not just chucking cut and pasted stuff from a website at a compiler and hoping it works. We had to squeeze the best out of the computer with minimal onboard resources, so it had to be written efficiently - no wasted bytes or cycles. No wonder modern code is often so full of resource leaks and security holes.

      Usually at or near the top of the class in all courses undertaken, but once I reached 48 I couldn't get a new job after redundancy as I was considered "too old to learn". Been through CCPM, DOS, Windows from v2 onwards, Netware, NT, Linux. Done hardware, software, databases, websites, system support, customer support, IT management, infrastructure management, networking, installations, consultancy, but still not good enough.

      Experience no longer counts, even though we see jobs wanting x years plus of experience with y, even though y has been out less than x years! Business is no longer prepared to train people, but ignore those with the most experience at the same time. I had to go freelance to get any IT-related work at all and I'm finally retiring next year at 68.

      Icon: Grumpy old man ------>

      1. mmonroe

        Re: hmmmm

        I'm 65 and still at the coal face. I have ploughed the legacy furrow for most of my computing career. When I started, it was at the end of the punch card era. There was always lots of work for people who understood old technology.

        For the last decade, I have worked in a college, doing a small amout of development, but mostly keeping the printers, projectors and all the stuff that nobody else wants to do, going. I like the easy life. The others in the team generally try to fix things remotely and when they can't, begrudgingly go and see the user. Me, I always use the personal touch, visit the users and besides the less I have to do with this newfangled M$ stuff, the better I like it.

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: hmmmm

        "We had to squeeze the best out of the computer with minimal onboard resources, so it had to be written efficiently - no wasted bytes or cycles. No wonder modern code is often so full of resource leaks and security holes."

        In fact, it's often the code that cuts corners for efficiency that develops those behaviors. There's also just writing it wrong and failing to properly manage things, and old code is pretty good at making those mistakes too. Little tricks to get an operation done in ten fewer instructions rather than do the obvious way have often been the cause of vulnerabilities, and the cheapness of cycles on modern chips allows us to dispense with them and go for the one that wastes a few and doesn't have a hole.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: hmmmm

        It'll count even less when AI steps in to bolster the work output of your average IT guy.

        I've been using AI to assist me in projects for 3-4 months now, saved me an absolute bundle in outsourcing costs...never going back.

    5. MJI Silver badge

      Re: hmmmm

      I'm in my 50s and can connect more to the younger ones.

      Games, anime, that sorts of thing. I do have kids in their 20s.

      But then a young one was going on about a great guitarist he had seen, so I mentioned Eddie Van Halen, my boss mentioned Jimi Hendrix.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: hmmmm

        Yeah, some nearby teenagers were going on and on about stuff, so my mother decided to educate them as to what it was like at Woodstock (yes, that Woodstock) and what it was like in the sixties. Completely blew their minds.

        Being a cranky old git doesn't mean we're senile and incapable and mentally absent. It means we've been there, seen it, and done it in ways the youngsters simply wouldn't be capable of understanding. My generation hand translated instructions into hex bytes and poked them into memory. The generation before me did it with toggle switches. Now? How many of today's young coders even know what an interrupt handler is? Or what assembler looks like?

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: hmmmm

          The only way they will likely have seen assembler is if they were paying close attention to the GCHQ screens in the Channel 4 drama 'The Undeclared War' last June/July. Every other hacker-style film or series just scrolls JavaScript up and down the screen at a ridiculous rate of knots.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: hmmmm

          "How many of today's young coders even know what an interrupt handler is? Or what assembler looks like?"

          More than you think, but they don't get to demonstrate it because the oldies won't move out the way. Oldies should exist in tech in the background, guiding people...they shouldn't be there at the coalface. Knowledge and experience should be passed down. That doesn't seem to happen in tech very much these days.

          Just look at the sheer number of young techies out there that have no idea where to begin in a tech career, this lack of direction exists not because the young people are stupid, but because there aren't enough oldies providing guidance / willing to train them up.

          I was lucky and had an old IBM'er train me up when I was young, back in the early to mid 90s. He recognised that he was approaching his mid 60's and wanted to wind down a bit...so he spent considerable time training me up because he'd heard around the village that I was a "bit of a nerd" and eventually handed me his clients and rode off into the sunset to live in Australia. I've no idea if he's still alive, haven't spoken to him in decades...but I still talk about him and share the knowledge he gave me. So even if he is dead, he's managed to survive in some form through sharing knowledge...his influence still continues.

          I'm approaching middle age now, and I'm starting to train younger engineers myself if I find them landing on my doorstep. I don't have enough money to employ any of them, but I can share the benefit of my experience for free. I can lend them tools and kit and show them how to use them...it shouldn't be me...at least not yet.

          Yes, you old folks in tech have legendary skills and mind blowing experience...but as wise old sages that should be teaching people based on this knowledge and experience, you're mostly fucking hopeless. There are still some diamonds out there, but they are rare. Most of you will have been trained by someone in the 70s/80s, now it's your turn...step up you miserable old fuckers find some youngsters, give them some of your time...if you're moaning about how crap youngsters are, it's not their fault...it's yours because you aren't training them.

          In direct response to your question quoted above...I'd say it's directly proportional to the number of people you've bothered to share that knowledge with. Someone shared it with you, you didn't just find it carved into a stone tablet that beamed down from the heavens. If there aren't enough coders that know what you know, then find them and train them.

          Skills - 10

          Experience - 10

          Ability to Train others - 0

          Experience and knowledge is fucking worthless if you are incapable of passing it on.

          Knowledge is a relay race. Being able to run from one point to another in record time is great, but if you're fumbling the baton the whole time and fail to hand it over, you're still going to lose.

    6. AndrueC Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: hmmmm

      55 here and a senior software developer. By far the oldest on my team. And yes, I've done most of the things mentioned though not got into Chromebooks and don't want to have anything to do with IoT. And knowing all that stuff most definitely gives me an advantage over the younger folk. From simply having a better innate understanding of computers and computer systems to an instinct for efficient coding because of my experience of simpler computers.

      But I'm moving to a four day week early next year with a view to retiring Soon(TM).

      I've had a good and mostly enjoyable career but I've reached the point where I need to enjoy my retirement or risk wasting all the money I put into my pension.

    7. TooOldForThisSh*t

      Re: hmmmm

      Here in the good old USofA, when HR looks at any gray-haired staff they see health care costs. Get rid of the oldsters and cut health care costs.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: hmmmm

        Is it cheaper to hire a hitman than it is to fork out for the redundancy payments? If so, start being really careful when you cross the road or climb the stairs.

    8. balrog
      Thumb Up

      Re: hmmmm

      I resemble that remark

    9. Electronics'R'Us
      Holmes

      Re: hmmmm

      I am a 65+ something and I grew up with transistor radio kits (the original new shiny - 6 transistors! Woo hoo!)

      I am currently working full time where my knowledge of the old equipment is invaluable, but just like many of my age group, I have seen fads come and go and the latest 'ultimate' components (there is always a catch here - the list is long).

      I have designed hardware and software (6502 assembly was one of the first) and I remember the first FPGAs appearing. There is a major advantage to really understanding transistor theory even with new parts (they are still transistors inside, just a lot smaller).

      One of the things I am currently working on is some new precision test equipment and interfaces and it is just about all surface mount parts. Layout has changed over the years for good reasons but I know why so I don't get caught out generally.

      I remember someone mentioning that all that old stuff was not relevant anymore so I reminded the person that we have not yet repealed Ohm's Law (it is quite interesting how many faults can be tracked down just using that and some simple test kit).

      It helps that I have my name on a couple of high-speed standards.

      So yes, we understand what is going on in the otherwise magical innards of these new devices and writing init code for them on bare metal is a doddle when that level of knowledge is present (why yes, I do use C for that. How did you guess?).

      The current $POSITION requires an in depth knowledge of RF and radar and although we have come a long way, the fundamentals of radar are still the same as they were when it was first invented. New (well, sorta new) types of signal generation (but signal generators nonetheless), power amps and receivers but I can figure out what everything is doing very quickly as there are a limited number of ways to implement a radar. The same goes for any number of other types of technology.

      Can't adapt? I think many of the younger crowd are the ones with difficulty adapting.

      1. Archivist

        Re: hmmmm

        72 here and still getting excitement working at the coal face. A background in RF and broadcast fills some of the gaps in knowledge my colleagues have. I didn't apply for this job, I just slid into a vacuum that was created by new technologies.

        Working keeps me physically and mentally healthy. My peers who retired earlier have aged must faster than me.

        Will I retire? Maybe in 3 years or as long as I'm useful.

    10. DS999 Silver badge

      What they mean by "can't adapt to new technology"

      Is that they've seen hype cycles come and go, so when someone in the C suite hears hype around metaverse and orders the IT department to set a goal for moving everything they can to the metaverse, the older folks resist. Not because they can't adapt, but because they know it is a stupid idea - and even if it was a good idea there should be a lot of research done first before jumping in with both feet.

      Replace "metaverse" with whatever current buzzword you have been hearing from your boss' boss recently.

      I'm guessing the places you read about who spent buckets of money on failed experiments to "blockchain enable" all their business processes in the last few years had already got rid of all the people over 50.

    11. RobLang

      Re: hmmmm

      Quite right! I'm mid-40s and I've been learning new technology every year since I was 8.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Other factors may include

    "can't earn more unless you become a manager syndrome".

    No good post made available after the latest reorganisation - always tempting to eliminate senior posts rather than junior ones to save money

    But in my own case I dipped out of full time in IT at the first reorganisation after early retirement came available. I thought I was burned out through stress, but on reflection I realise that a lot of the stress was from coming last in a corporate backstabbing competition I didn't know I had been entered in. Hard to win one if you're not holding a knife.

    I think it's also the case that mature techies who have seen a lot of management fads come, fail to deliver and go may be regarded as not 'having a can do attitude' when it comes to the next fad.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think it's also the case that mature techies who have seen a lot of management fads come, fail to deliver and go may be regarded as not 'having a can do attitude' when it comes to the next fad.

      I think you're probably onto something there: I retired last week (aged 53) mostly due to the idiotic ideas of new CEO who knows exactly what he wants, but has no idea of what it actually means, or how it would work for the company. When the option of early retirement came up I jumped at it.

      1. blackcat Silver badge

        You get a touch jaded when you are on the 4th or 5th MAJOR data transition with the same company and all the managers keep telling you it is a 'once in a career' thing. As one of the few people who knew Linux intimately I got roped into a lot of IT work.

        We did a BIG transition over a bank hol as everyone was out of the office. We had a whiteboard with all the tasks in order of completion. The PM kept bugging us 'have you done <item x> yet' to which we would reply 'we've not done <item x-1> and we can't do <item x> until it is done'. He'd sit down, type some emails for a while and then ask something similar.

        Eventually we sent him off to Subway or Dominos as he had a company CC.

        Of course at the end he gets a bonus and many pats on the back for a job well done and we got ignored.

        And yeah, too many management fads, usually from books, usually from a half understood book and almost always done wrong. Several weeks of work setting up workflows and templates just as they want it, I got to do the training as that is not what managers do and then when it is badly received and doesn't work as expected guess who gets the flak.

        I'm glad to be out of my multi-role job and back to poking PCBs with soldering irons and scope probes. More £, a LOT less grief.

      2. Dr Dan Holdsworth
        Joke

        Over in the halls of Academia, we have a very effective unwritten rule where management fads are concerned: we trail the bleeding edge of fads by about 18 months to two years. This then means that we know precisely what a load of complete bollocks we're being introduced to, and we know where this particular inflatable dartboard will meets its Waterloo and how this will happen.

        This makes the whole process much more relaxing and allows us to view the process less as an essential part of business and more as a comic soap opera put on for our especial entertainment.

        1. EVP

          ”we trail the bleeding edge of fads by about 18 months to two years”

          It’s not a joke, despite the joke icon. You can count government organisations in. Natural feeding cycle of those parasites is private->government->acamemia->education.

          And it’s not more relaxing*, but the opposite when you know beforehand what shit storm is about to be summoned upon you.

          *) The joke icon must be for this part. A sarcasm icon, if available, would be more appropriate.

        2. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Sadly in schools we adopt "new" management and such like ideas about 2 years after the outside word has dropped them for being unsustainable, ineffective etc. I never found out why this was when I was in the bear pit.

          1. ChoHag Silver badge

            Those who can, do...

    2. 43300 Silver badge

      "I think it's also the case that mature techies who have seen a lot of management fads come, fail to deliver and go may be regarded as not 'having a can do attitude' when it comes to the next fad."

      Yeah, especially with the whole cloudy thing. Bring in a new cloudy SaaS offering (especially a Microsoft one) and you can expect loads of hassle and things randomly breaking without warning. Things were so much simpler when it was all on prem and apart from patches there was little risk of this happening - and the patches were separate so when they broke something (Exchange server was a favourite) it was usually just a case of working back through and removing them one by one until the issue went away.

      We are now in the world where nearly everything is in perpetual beta, and the users are the unpaid testers.

      1. blackcat Silver badge

        My OH is suffering the cloud thing. Big IT company, lots of on prem servers all getting old and running into their MTBF hours. So big push to go cloud. Then comes the realisation of just how much it costs with all the bandwidth and storage needed.....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          >> So big push to go cloud

          Same here, everything must go cloud! everything Agile! setting new records in mushrooming totally out of control cost terms but "they" are not looking.....

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Cloud

            I just recently did a couple of AWS certifications, largely because my current employer is in the partner program so some of the online training is free, and we get to claim exam expenses back (about the only "perk" in my current job besides getting paid), and as they are aggressively cutting staff it will help if I'm redundant within the next 3 years.

            As someone in my mid 60's who like many here started with 6502 processors, through DOS, then Netware and then innumerable versions of Windows and Linux I must say I found it challenging.....lmao well no not really, firewall and gateways, TCP/IP whatever shall I do?, and in a nice friendly GUI or easy to understand CLI lmao

            The Cloud is pretty much like leasing a car, sure you get a nice new shiny, but you pay through the nose for it over and over again, Amazon make a big thing about scalability but if you tested and did your sums right it's unlikely you will need extra capacity once it's settled down and you get a good baseline. After a while reality sets in and the accounts department starts yelling like mad to reduce the number of instances and services.

      2. MJI Silver badge

        Cloudy

        Our new software is supposed to be cloud based but all the devs have said it MUST be able to work with local servers on local PCs, got that one through.

    3. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Other factors may include

      "can't earn more unless you become a manager syndrome".

      No good post made available after the latest reorganisation - always tempting to eliminate senior posts rather than junior ones to save money

      I don't know about corporate IT. But in education that holds true, definitely.

      And we also have a truly diabolical combination of Peter Principle (good teachers and departmental heads being promoted out of the classroom to managerial jobs they're useless at) and ambitious young climbers who plot their way to the top asap by jumping on every initiative and new programme that comes in, and adroitly moving on and up before it flops ( they all flop)

      Which means there are a lot of experienced, effective, good, jaded, frustrated middle aged teachers who can't wait to get out and retire as early as they can. And managers who want them to, to save money and appoint cheaper staff that will be amenable to whatever new best thing bollocks they're being asked to take on.

  5. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    What do we expect?

    I am not a statistician, but if the age range in employment is, say, twenty to sixty, then one might expect oh, a quarter in each ten year quartile, no? Probably with some lift at the younger end. So 22% instead of 25% in the top quartile is hardly headline figures...

    Not that I'm in any way opposed to employing older engineers - after all, I am one (and the company I retired from asked me to continue working for them in retirement).

    1. fxkeh

      Re: What do we expect?

      There's little chance most people will be retiring at 60 these days, but I thought a similar thing - that 22% doesn't seem far off what you'd see from a normal distribution. And that it's a little lower could be just be that 30 years ago there were less IT jobs around so less people started a career in IT.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: What do we expect?

        Adviser in the 1980s "You will be able to retire at 60!"

        Worker in the 2020s "I was promised, but now try 70!"

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: What do we expect?

          The trick to retiring early is:

          1)Be fairly sensible with credit. Mortgage and (if it's the only way to get reliability) car loans should be all. Never use credit just because you want something now, especially if it's replacing something just for the sake of it.

          2)Start paying into a pension as soon as possible. I started my first private pension in my first lunch hour. I always treated paying into my pension as a core bill. It was on an annual 10% increase for many years and was always a bigger monthly cost than my mortgage.

          3)Don't start a family. Yeah this one is probably the biggie ;)

          I paid off my mortgage at age 45 (ten years ago). I could've retired at 50 but decided to go a bit further. I might hang on for another four years but no further than that. I will be not working past 60 and am going part time next year.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What do we expect?

            >I paid off my mortgage at age 45 (ten years ago)

            You're missing point 4 on that list, which would be something to the effect of "be born lucky enough to become a home owner in the mid '80s and through no effort see the value of that investment more than quadruple while interest rates collapsed to record lows"

            That, and hear me out here, might have had something to do with being able to buy early and retire early.

            If you think whatever it was you were paying into your pension was a big cost when you were a nipper you're entirely disconnected with the realities of being a young person today. The average proportion of income spent on *rent*, never mind mortgages, is 37%. You lived in a different world.

            1. andy 103
              Stop

              Re: What do we expect?

              Regarding The trick to retiring early is

              I'm late 30s and paid off my mortgage this year. But... I was left over twice the value of my remaining mortgage in an inheritance which I received this year. That's how I've done it.

              I chose not to have kids.

              Had either of those things been different I can categorically say I'd be working up to the age of 68 (and possibly longer). I intend to retire at 60. I'm currently on 13k more than the UK average salary and have paid into a pension since my first "real" job at 22.

              You lived in a different world.

              People who dispute this point are deluded. It *was* a very different world and there's no way the average person can do what was possible 20+ years ago on like-for-like earnings, due to property costs alone. Throw childcare into the mix and... good luck with that!

              1. WereWoof

                Re: What do we expect?

                My late Father bought (had built) a 5 bedroom house in 1960/1961. he was working at CEGB at the time. If he was that age now and doing a similar job there is no way he could afford it. 4 kids and a SAH wife till I was old enough to go to school then she worked as a part time dinner/playground supervisor. Times are a lot different and not for the better.

            2. AndrueC Silver badge
              Meh

              Re: What do we expect?

              If you think whatever it was you were paying into your pension was a big cost when you were a nipper you're entirely disconnected with the realities of being a young person today.

              A big cost is a big cost no matter when it occurs. From memory my pension was typically a third, sometimes even a half of my monthly outgoings. That would be a 'big cost' whether it was £50, £500 or £5,000.

              I'm aware it's more difficult to get on the housing ladder now and your point 4 is certainly worth adding to the list. However it doesn't negate the points I made. Follow my advice and you are more likely to pay off your mortgage early. Fail to follow my advice and you might never even get to the point of having one.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: What do we expect?

                >From memory my pension was typically a third, sometimes even a half of my monthly outgoings.

                Given the historical state of pensions tax relief (or rather the lack of pensions tax relief in that age of final salary pensions) I'd suggest your memory is distinctly faulty. I'd go so far as to say rose-tinted.

                The main point is that your overpayment of your pension was entirely voluntary. Doing that kind of overpayment today would be daft.

                A new graduate today is looking at the triple whammy of 50+% marginal tax rates, a typical earnings ratio for new property of somewhere in the region of 15 or 20-to-1 and first time buyer rates of 7-8%. Your lived experience is no longer relevant. The idea you can just whack a few more quid into your pension from your paper round and sail off into early retirement is for the birds.

            3. Blank Reg

              Re: What do we expect?

              Sure my house has gone up 5x but that's irrelevant as long as I'm just living in it. I paid off my mortgage in 11 years, but i had a strong incentive to do so as my first mortgage was at 12% interest. For the past decade we've had stupidly low interest rates and it seems far too many people thought that meant they should take on an extra large mortgage, and at the same time not try to pay down that mortgage as fast as possible.

              Now interest rates are finally getting back to normal and many people will be screwed as they won't be able to handle a 50% percent increase in monthly payments on a house that is declining in value.

          2. Filippo Silver badge

            Re: What do we expect?

            I'm not downvoting because it's good advice.

            Unfortunately, in this age, that advice is not "the trick to retiring early", but rather "the trick to be able to survive once you'll be too old to work".

            1. AndrueC Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: What do we expect?

              Yeah, I could go with that. Perhaps it should just have been 'the trick to avoid getting into financial difficulty'. But I'd suggest that following my advice is a good start (option 3 being the most difficult one). For sure if someone doesn't follow that advice you won't stand a cat-in-hells chance of paying off your mortgage early and will struggle to even get in the position of having one.

          3. MJI Silver badge

            Re: What do we expect?

            Credit is a bastard, it gets worse. BTDT.

            Only debts now are Mortgage and a loan to clear the BTDTs.

            Mortage is also fixed at a lowish rate until finished.

            Children - a huge expense, but two of them are now programmers.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What do we expect?

            "The trick to retiring early is:"

            Be rich. All the steps are irrelevant in any known reality and it boils down to "be rich". And have wealthy parents too.

            Have a good university education your parents paid, have a nice 6-figure salary in a job your parents arranged for you and you have money to do steps 1-3. if you miss any of those, all steps are 100% meaningless.

            Specifially the 3 as you don't have money to pay rent, even less for a mortgage. DINK is the rule then.

            Yet another 'self made' kid who doesn't understand where he got his wealth.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What do we expect?

      >then one might expect oh, a quarter in each ten year quartile, no

      In an industry that is growing over time faster than other sectors, you would expect to see a larger quantity in the younger quartiles, reflecting the fact there was more opportunity to enter the industry for each cohort as they each entered industry over time.

      Or in a population that is growing overall over time you'd see the same effect, reflecting the general growth in each entry cohort over time.

      Which is... exactly what we're seeing.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: What do we expect?

        Don't know why you feel the need to post this rather obvious observation as AC.

        I suspect if the BCS (of which I'm a member) analyzed their membership data they would see similar.

        Also look at the university data, back in 1980 few university places for Computing, over the decades the number of places has massively increased, so you would expect there to be fewer people 50~60 with Computing degrees (and even fewer 60+).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What do we expect?

          I thought the BCS membership was largely (in IBM speak) dinobabies?

    3. rnturn

      Re: What do we expect?

      Hmm... which quartile is most likely to hold the most institutional knowledge about a company and its processes? It'd be safe bet that the possessors of that knowledge skews heavily toward the group that the company wants to get rid of the most.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tick-box recruitment not helping!

    HNC qualified Electronics Engineer and licensed Radio Amateur Gen-Xer who hit 50 this year - and as previously commented, yes, played with ZX81, BBC B, DOS, Xenix, Win 3.11, Netware, Token Ring, NT 4.0, Linux, and on. Achieved CITP status back in 2007 and still having to explain it to companies and recruiters! Currently stuck in a horrid two-bit company on rubbish wages with rubbish hours (40/week) as it was the only place that would employ me after the lack of a job during lockdown (hence anon). I am desperately trying to find something better and losing the will to live doing so - and starting to suspect my age, and perfect face for radio is working against me! Too many tick boxes to check off with employers who are still trying to find Unicorns; and too many incorrect assumptions. Oh, you have Linux skills - here are 50 DevOps and coding jobs! You live next to the East Coast Mainline - here are 50 jobs paying peanuts that expect you in the office in London 5 days a week. We are looking for someone with MCSE/CCNA/VMware certification, and we are going to keep looking even if this role goes un-filled for a year!

    I suspect many El Reg readers in the UK have experienced the same crap as I have. "It's a role in Cambridge." No, it is Waterbeach, or the Granta Business Park, which are no-where near. "This Cambridge company believes in everyone using public transport and cycling to work. You can get there on the train!" The train where I live gets to London quicker than it gets to Cambridge. "Must have 20 years experience of $CLOUD" because the bean-couters have decided to throw-away all of the on-prem kit that people like me have spent years perfecting. A first-line oik is capable of ticking some boxes in a browser. Why should we pay for a Senior SysAdmin? We just need a dumb router to issue DHCP and DNS!

    If I could afford to retire, or drop out of IT back into my original skill of Electronics Engineering, I would!

    1. blackcat Silver badge

      Re: Tick-box recruitment not helping!

      I was lucky last year as a local place was looking for a principal EE and they didn't mind the slightly older engineer (I cut my teeth on a beeb) and also with a face for radio. They wanted someone who they could point at a problem and say 'go do' and it would get done. The stars aligned at just the right time.

      The situation in IT is pretty horrific and yes they would rather let a position sit empty due to the completely stupid job requirements than get someone who knows most of what they want.

      1. mwoods

        Re: Tick-box recruitment not helping!

        I'm 50 and over the past few years I've become aware of companies advertising the same roles time and time again. One company has advertised for the same role 3 times in the last 12 months alone (retention or toxicity?). But all of the companies ask for bells and whistles, so much so that you have to be a DevSecOps with infrastructure design, configuration, implementation, maintenance and support of both on premise and cloud thrown in to the mix for good measure.

    2. Giles C Silver badge

      Re: Tick-box recruitment not helping!

      Ah a fellow peterborough resident then, I have seen roles advertised as being in Cambridge as anything from Huntington (west) to Ely (north) to bishops storford (south) and Newmarket (east).

      I am lucky I got a short contract with a company in London but had it agreed that I would only go to London for a once a month meeting and weekend migration work. No I do not want to spend 2 hours a day commuting…

      49 2/3 year old Cisco security expert.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tick-box recruitment not helping!

        Biggleswade, so 30 miles nearer to London. I worked for myself for a period, and I put up with being soaked/frozen/boiled whilst waiting for a train and carrying a heavy backpack. Sadly, our area of east Bedfordshire suffers from the A1/M1 effect, in that all people keep building is bloody warehouses. The local papers and politicians run around celebrating as it creates jobs. All zero-hour minimum-wage jobs, but it created jobs! So I am forced to look towards Cambridge for decent pay and decent levels of tech. And that means wading through the rubbish from the used car sales people trying to sell me a role in Cambridge that is either a non-starter as I cannot drive and park outside, or is not actually in Cambridge. If I can get past that, you then have to get past the snobs who demand you have a 2.1 degree from Oxbridge!

        1. Giles C Silver badge

          Re: Tick-box recruitment not helping!

          I’ve seen those, who cares what degree you have 30 years after doing it (I haven’t got a degree myself just Cisco qualifications). If you are just out of university it sort of makes sense if only to prove you didn’t spend all the time watching daytime tv.

          There are a lot of technology companies around Cambridge and a few up in Peterborough but it is down to the type of work you do.

          For myself being a Cisco engineer is fairly specialist as the systems I tend to work on are only really used by larger companies (FTD, Stealthwatch, DNA centre and a bit of ISE) a lot of small organisations can’t justify the cost of the solutions so they would only need someone like me for a few days before I ran out of work.

          Have you tried CDW in Peterborough as they are often looking for tech staff?

          Just rereading your original post it reminded me, a few weeks back an interview with a company wanting a network engineer, did the interview where I was told they had been looking since January! Said I was interested and got told well you passed the first stage and the hr department would be in touch next week, that was late October and nothing heard from them since…. Bet they are still looking.

        2. Neil Barnes Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: Tick-box recruitment not helping!

          Lived in Hemel and worked close to Cambridge for ten years... it's a long commute with no practical public transport alternative, and I got through a lot of diesel and tyres. Covid lockdown demonstrated that the job could be done without leaving the house except rarely. Offered lots of jobs over the years working with defence companies but I preferred not to.

          There were initial questions asking which Cambridge college I acquired my graduate and post-graduate degrees... apparently there aren't any other universities and there definitely isn't an OU...

    3. Sudosu Bronze badge

      Re: Tick-box recruitment not helping!

      A friend of mine had a contract expire and was looking for work through a headhunting company.

      They told him (in a nice way, the rep may have been a buddy of his) only to leave only the last 5 years of experience on his resume to prevent companies from thinking he was older and passing him over.

    4. omz13

      Re: Tick-box recruitment not helping!

      Funny you mention being CITP for many years and having to explain it to recruiters, etc. Same here. In 20 years I only had one person who recognized what those 4 letters meant… and that person turned out to be the first client I had to take legal action against for short-changing me on an invoice! I gave up BCS membership and CITP as it seemed to be pouring money down a drain.

  7. Duffaboy
    WTF?

    Pray tell how they got this information

    Really did they survey all the HR departments of all IT companies, me thinks this is a stick your finger in the air and guess job.

  8. Doctor Tarr
    Thumb Down

    Unsurprising

    "The median hourly wage for older techies is £25, which is 14 percent higher than for IT specialists as a whole"

    The average Tech is underpaid and over worked. Other professions in business don't get lumbered with the range of work some techs do. In the past as a developer i was also asked to fix things like paper jams in photocopiers or get headsets working. Literally anything that used electricity was fair game.

    That never happened to other professions like HR, Legal or bean counting.

    HR do salary assessments based on basic IT job skills and not on specialisation or value to the business.

    Most tech people i knew go out when they hit the glass ceiling, myself included, and good, productive and knowledgeable people leave the profession.

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Unsurprising

      Literally anything that used electricity was fair game.

      I've been asked to fix photocopiers & microwaves.

      1. 43300 Silver badge

        Re: Unsurprising

        Photocopiers are a grey area (they are part of my remit, although I make sure we have maintenance contracts on them for when they break!). Burglar alarms is another one I seem to get involved in quite a bit.

        1. DishonestQuill

          Re: Unsurprising

          At least burglar alarms make for a cushy side gig.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Unsurprising

        I think the weirdest one I ever had was being asked to diagnose why MDs mobile kept disconnecting from his Bentley - it worked fine when the vehicle was static so I said I'd have to take it for some extended testing to reproduce and get to the bottom of the issue, and oddly he decided he'd then ask Bentley about it.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Unsurprising

          I offered to kill the DSG gearbox on our last company car.

          The new company car has a proper auto.

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: Unsurprising

            To the downvoter my bosses got shot of the car because the gear box was erratic, supplier said no issue, ended up with one boss refusing to drive it after it played up on a roundabout. Very laggy, changed up, when down was required, it was terrible.

            This is why iI offered to kill the gearbox so they would have to fix it, but instead they got shot and got a car with a torque converter auto (and extra electric motor).

            To kill a DSG steep hill, reverse, walking pace.

            1. blackcat Silver badge

              Re: Unsurprising

              I will remember that tip :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Unsurprising

      it's the stupid banded system of wages that firms have these days.

      It's makes it easy for HR bods, but if you're a techie and you don't want to go into management you're screwed. You hit the top of the engineering band, then you either move to management and give up your tech skills OR you never get a pay rise again for the rest of your career.

  9. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    I think my opinions echo all the others here: 50+ and I've seen the same shit reguritated in different ways. Fed up of people (users & managers) who treat IT staff like dirt.

    If I could find another line of work which paid similar rates (certainly more than the £24/hour they're quoting!) I'd seriously consider jumping ship.

  10. Azamino

    Isn't this a good news story?

    Is the core of this story that a disproportionate number of techies grow rich enough to change career, reduce their hours or just plain quit by age 50, or that ageism is rife and that the greybeards struggle to find work?

    1. 43300 Silver badge

      Re: Isn't this a good news story?

      Possibly a bit of both? I've got a few years to go before reaching 50, but I definitely won't be in a position to reduce hours or quit by then!

      But those who have specific niche skills which are very much in demand might well have earned a large amount by the time they are 50.

      1. GNU SedGawk Bronze badge

        Earned a huge amount, and spent a fortune to bring in the money often go hand in hand.

        I did quite a few gigs which were at best "cost neutral" once the hotel bills, travel costs, out of pocket and paying through the nose for everything are counted.

        I loved every minute of it, but objectively in terms of "retained profit", I'd have been better off on the minimum wage.

        The inflation means we'll start to see a few more £100k permie jobs, but these are the same jobs which were paying £80k in 2018, which inflation adjusted is ~95k.

        Which will give an average pay rise of only £1k a year once you remove inflationary effect.

        £100k will feel like a much smaller amount in 2023 than £80k felt in 2018, but £100k still sounds like a huge salary.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Earned a huge amount, and spent a fortune to bring in the money often go hand in hand.

          > but these are the same jobs which were paying £80k in 2018

          And were paying £60k in 2000. ie. salaries haven't gone up as much as we would like....

    2. GNU SedGawk Bronze badge

      Re: Isn't this a good news story?

      Ageism is rife, It's as hard to get a poorly paid job as it is to get a well paid job, so you might as well push the boat out.

      Ultimately if you can (physically)keep working and (being supported to)keep learning then depending on your background, it's good eating ( software, cloudy, unixy, network) or famine.

      There is no security of tenure, so liquidity if possible, debt financed if otherwise.

    3. Sudosu Bronze badge

      Re: Isn't this a good news story?

      Don't forget that unfortunate things like divorce, supporting aging parents, bad investments or medical costs etc can drain away vast sums of potential retirement funds later in life.

      A person may have made and lost a fortune between 20 and 50, but all that matters is how much is left to retire with.

  11. UndergroundMan

    The pay in the EU is so much better than the UK, that once you're experienced and willing to move, you can have a much better quality of life outside of the UK. I wonder if this plays into the statistics...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not my experience. My gross salary in France was comparable to that of my colleagues in the UK (less than those in the US, but the cost of living over there is frightening).

      Taxes in France, on the other hand, make Jeremy Hunt's latest raid look like a minor hiccough, especially if you're unlucky enough to have some of your pay in stock. When you add "social charges" and the just-because-we-can addons like 10% "employee contribution" you can end up paying 65% on some income, even when nominally only in a 40% marginal tax band.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >you can end up paying 65% on some income, even when nominally only in a 40% marginal tax band.

        Honestly it's actually much worse here, and the burden is placed onto those far less able to pay. A new graduate earning 30,000 in the UK will pay an effective marginal rate of 50%, despite a nominal income tax rate of 20%.

        And then 40% of what's left goes on rent to pay someone else's mortgage.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "effective marginal rate of 50%, despite a nominal income tax rate of 20%."

          Marginal rate is irrelevant when <1% of salary goes to that bracket and 99% of it pays 20%. And you know it. People always whine about marginals fully knowing they are >95% irrelevant. Or they have no idea how bracketed tax systems work, even worse.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            People who sit in higher tax brackets always say they're paying 40% tax. In reality that's only relevant if a massive proportion of their earnings is over that threshold. So they have nothing to whine about.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            >Marginal rate is irrelevant

            No, it isn't. It's not relevant to discussions of overall tax burden, but it is absolutely relevant to discussions on the role of salary as an incentive towards productivity, or incentive towards progression, or in terms of discussing the distribution of tax burden across various income tax bands. Otherwise we'd just have a flat tax and flat taxes are stupid.

            I'd challenge you to find someone earning £30k and explain to them that they're only going to be taking home £500 of their £1000 pay rise is "irrelevant", particularly when inflation is ticking along at 10%.

            If the additional tax burden was legitimately paying off their student loan then we'd maybe be doing something sensible, but with the way the Plan 2 interest rates are rigged unless you earn around 50k you're probably *never* going to pay it back, and the repayments are a fixed proportion of your income over the threshold - 9% - for 30 years. As a reminder for those of us lucky enough to be swimming in freelance largesse, earnings of 50k puts you in the top 20% of all earners.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        " paying 65% on some income,"

        Emphasis on *some*. Some irrelevant amount of money spilling to high income tax bracket is totally meaningless, when bulk of the money pays 20% or so.

        Also, in some countries, the taxes actually go to something useful instead of army or bailing out banks.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          >when bulk of the money pays 20% or so.

          You're forgetting about NI, council tax and student loan repayments.

  12. Dave559

    "the north-east of the UK"

    Ahem: "the north-east of the UK" is Aberdeenshire or thereabouts, and possibly even further north.

    However, that's not what the cited article actually says: it says "the North East", which, without any further clearly defined specification (now we know why many IT projects go wrong), is usually assumed to mean "northeast Englandshire" (and is usually written as one word, rather than two).

    (Also, the "one in eight programmers/developers" statistic is in a new bullet point/paragraph and therefore is presumably a general data point applicable to the cohort as a whole, and not to the previous point relating to the Northeast.)

    1. NXM Silver badge

      Re: "the north-east of the UK"

      Obviously they mean 'north of the north circular'. Even on the weather they say 'the north west ' when they mean Liverpool.

      1. 43300 Silver badge

        Re: "the north-east of the UK"

        On Radio 3 a few weeks ago I heard "North East towns and cities, like Hull".

        Nope - Hull is Yorkshire. The NE starts at the Tees estuary.

  13. hamiltoneuk

    25 beer tokens per hour median - that's barely worth getting out of bed for these days is it? I suppose if you're over 50 things like morgage payments will be less of a problem and hopefully you're less likely to be paying rent. When I went down the local tech college in good old 1984 to get an HNC at the tender age of 28 we were all looking to boost our qualifications a wee bit to get the magic 5 figure salary. With that sort of money a mortgage on a terraced house was possible even with sky high interest rates. What's the situation in 2022? Please tell.

  14. Westley

    Not in my 50's yet, long way off, but i would rather earn less and stay in my council job than move into the industry have plenty of mates who work in company's and they all stressed all of the time! They make at least twice as much mind you...

    Plus i have been here so long, that if they make me redundant over the age of 53 i can just claim my pension by that point prob 3/4's of my sal with out reduction, as i will be classed as "to old to start a new career" an option not open to most, but i have been here a long time.

    Office politics and having to deal with people is the reason i dont leave here, no one knows what i do, and some days most of what i do, is flip power switches on wall, when staff say their computers dont work, well yes its off at the wall, I still dont know who turns these peoples switches on at home for them, their butlers maybe?

    1. MJI Silver badge

      THis is why I am where I am

      Job changing is stressful.

      Our customers know me, I know the industry, other companies have an idea who I am.

      May as well stay here to retirement.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What kind of techies?

    When I last worked in the UK (December 2019, so there may have been some changes post Covid) both my own architecture team and the team working on the mainframe tended to be in the 55+ bracket.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We made our money and we're ready clock out, that's why!

    The reason there's fewer old timers now is that there was a ton of money to be made when I started my career around 1990, we raked it in and we earned lofty well paid positions. I was just another smart working class kid who got into well paid jobs in the 1990s and early 2000s. Unlike my parents I own my own house and I paid off my mortgage by age 43, I saved a ton of cash in investments and pensions.

    Me and my age old bretheren are looking to clock off by age of 60 at the latest, we saved the cash and we're ready to make the final hand over and clock out for a rest from 2am callouts and 16 hour weekend projects. I know a of techies who've had enough by mid 50s and they're ready checking out or planning to check out within 5 years.

    Sorry, it's a tough life and I want to go do something fun with my last 25+ years I have left that doesn't involve stressing about downed DNS servers or other crap!

  17. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    I'm in my late 50s and where I work does not seem to discriminate based on age/gender/race or anything else for that matter. There are experienced technical people here in their 30s that earn the same (or similar) to me. However the pay scales for technical (non-managerial) people is low compared to the managerial scales. If these companies REALLY want to recruit more technical staff, then try paying more. They never seem to have any problems recruiting sufficient Sales, Marketing & Management staff. I wonder why that is?

    I almost went down the manglement route, but swerved at the last minute when I was asked where I thought I would be in 5 years. In my head I saw me sat at a meeting room table stuck in a mobius loop discussing the whereness of the whichfore,.... and I bailed as fast as my feet could get me out of there. Best decision I ever made!

    There is also still this olde worlde mindset that IT Specialist = Engineer = dirty coal shoveler. That needs to change.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Absolutely this. Every corporation which still hasn't worked out that its job is producing software will hire all the PMs, sales, and marketing people you could shake a stick at, but as soon as a developer is needed then suddenly it's a problem for HR to give the go ahead. And when they finally do a developer's salary ranges are lower compared to other job types.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is that net, after taxes?

    > The median hourly wage for older techies is £25

    Doesn't make an ounce of sense to me. I'm paying people significantly more than that in central and eastern Europe. Even after charges and taxes.

    What's their definition of "techie"?

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Is that net, after taxes?

      Let's skip this story and document the entire thing with the BOFH talking to the PHB later this week.

    2. Irony Deficient

      Re: Is that net, after taxes?

      The median hourly wage for older techies is £25

      Doesn’t make an ounce of sense to me. I’m paying people significantly more than that in central and eastern Europe. Even after charges and taxes.

      What’s their definition of “techie”?

      The important word there is “median”. Are your older techies in central and eastern Europe being paid the median hourly wage for older techies where they live? If not, then the situation with your older techies is not directly comparable.

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Is that net, after taxes?

      Also important, what's your definition of "techie"? That could mean anything from programmer of safety critical equipment that only two hundred people worldwide understand at all to first line technical support at the ISP who read a script to people who don't have a clue how to troubleshoot other than recognizing that "My internet didn't work when I clicked on it". My guess is that the stuff you're outsourcing to eastern Europe is different from the median job they're talking about. For example, it seems more likely that you're outsourcing dev work than IT administration or support, and if you include the various levels of more entry-level support staff, that will pull the salary statistics down. We also don't have a great idea of what they included in "IT". I've seen many analyses disagree about whether programming is IT or not, and it doesn't stop there.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is that net, after taxes?

        > For example, it seems more likely that you're outsourcing dev work than IT administration or support, and if you include the various levels of more entry-level support staff, that will pull the salary statistics down.

        Exactly, that's my guess as well.

        And I'm not outsourcing. I'm based here.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Is that net, after taxes?

          Ah. I saw "central and eastern Europe" and interpreted it as multiple countries, then made another leap from that to outsourcing. So two possibly wrong assumptions, sorry about that.

          Maybe the original document is more specific about which jobs they're looking at. Whenever I see a single median number for what's almost certainly at least ten different jobs, it's a sign that somebody, either the original people or someone who summarized it, was cutting corners and giving simplistic results. I'm not in the UK either, which makes it harder to know what's a normal salary there for any given job, but even if I'm using local numbers, I only know a logical range for a few kinds of jobs similar to what I'm doing, not everything in IT.

  19. rafff

    Less qualified?

    "In terms of qualifications, the older IT crowd is less likely to have higher education qualifications – 64 percent versus 84 percent among those aged 16 to 49. And nine percent are likely to have an IT degree compared to 12 percent among the more youthful grouping."

    When I started, < 3% of school leavers went to university, and there was no such thing as an "IT degree". Nor was there any such thing as "computer science"; it was called "computing" and was regarded as a craft and not as a science. I don't know that the change in terminology has changed reality in any way.

    The results of the survey are not surprising.

    1. Vincent Ballard
      Coat

      Re: Less qualified?

      That means you must have started in the late 1940s or at the very latest the early 1950s, which puts you in your late 80s, so your experience isn't going to be the same as those in the 50-65 range that the article is talking about.

      1. Trixr

        Re: Less qualified?

        Nope, I'm 54, and there was no such thing as an IT degree when I first started uni. There was "Computer Science" as part of the Mathematics department, but since I hadn't done any advanced maths at high school, it didn't even cross my mind.

        I didn't get into IT until I got made redundant from my first career, late 90s. Still don't have an IT-related degree (some professional certifications, sure).

        1. Vincent Ballard

          Re: Less qualified?

          You're not actually disagreeing with me, because you say there was "computer science". The poster I replied to claimed to have started in computing before there was "computer science", which means no later than 1953 (and I suspect that the term wasn't invented for Cambridge's Dip. Comp. Sci. but is actually older).

  20. hughbarnard

    Over 70 and working

    And I'm working, mainly because I enjoy it, badly paid as an RA programming for a university. Also did a computing MSc at about 45 since nearly all my generation just slid into IT. We could contribute a lot more, but at 50 in the City they wanted me on the junk pile, so I left and started freelancing again.

  21. Furious Reg reader John
    Joke

    That Cisco switch in the photo still working at 50!

    Well, not quite 50, but that is a venerable 6500 switch. The 6500 was released in the last millennium, so that may have had a working life longer than most people reading this....

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    typical crap from business types

    Businesses can't WAIT to get rid of older employees and IT teams are treated so badly, you can't blame anyone for trying to get out asap.

    My last perm job was 16 years ago on £60k, if you look at perm jobs now, they are offering £52k! Why would anyone who's been lucky enough to retire early come back for that kind of money?

    You don't get overtime anymore, you don't get double time on weekends. ANYONE who takes TOIL should be slapped as should whoever came up with it in the first place.

    British firms have got used to cheap labour in India and they are now crying like little girls about the fact that UK employees don't want to take the 24/7 jobs for money that Indian engineers would spit at!

    "oh why is everyone contracting?", "why can't we get permanent experienced employees", "why doesn't anyone have any loyalty to the company?"

    Just look at how BT, IBM, etc hire and fire, never give pay rises etc.

    If I was talking to any retired IT guy who was thinking about coming back, I'd advise them against it.

  23. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Unhappy

    I'd have loved to

    make the switch from bashing bit of metal with keyboards to just bashing keyboards

    Sadly my Z80 assembler experience including designing programs to be multi-tasking via interupts(you try making sure everything gets done in 1/64th of a second before the next interupt arrives..) plus Open university qualifications in concurrent systems design(comes in handy when usings the old cells with the add on robots that need sync signals going back and forth to make sure everything works as planned and does'nt result in a big mangled mess of metal) and a fair amount of Java programming(including analysis of the RS 232 signals from the machines) didnt count for shit when I tried to swap careers aged 40.

    I was'nt aged 22-24 with a still wet degree and 2 years experience in a 6 month old technology therefore I was not suitable for the position........ so the career change never happens and that £25/hr job(with no oily robots to cope with) was out of reach.

    Still on the bright side.... only 6 more years of this bollocks to go :)

  24. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    IR35

    I am surprised nobody mentions IR35 as a culprit. Many over 50s were at a level working as consultants. When changes got introduced, they were unable to run their business and simply retired.

    At one company where I worked all over 50s quit and didn't take in-scope contracts risk averse corporations spooked by aggressive HMRC rhetoric offered after the changes.

    You can't be "the next Silicon Valley" with such anti-business and backwards laws that close path to growth of small business.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: IR35

      > I am surprised nobody mentions IR35 as a culprit.

      Contracted for 8 or so years. Then the IR35 changes appeared on the horizon. None of the local agencies or potential clients seemed to properly understand IR35 in general and especially the planned changes.

      Interviewed for a contract that was obviously inside/disguised employment (i.e. they expected a programming test to be completed in front of them). Didn't even bother interviewing for another contract that was, again, obviously disguised employment.

      Suddenly the only contracts being advertised were all inside IR35 (the worst of both worlds, none of the "benefits" of employment or contracting but both sets of downsides). If I wanted employment I'd take a full-time job, not take a inside IR35 contract.

      I was long since fed up with employment (company politics, having no real input into decisions, etc) and would never work as an employee again.

      Anyway as I didn't want an IT job (as opposed to "proper" contracts) and with the IR35-changes-driven lack of proper contracts I just decided to retire early...

  25. MOH

    I'm very wary of ageism given I'm likely to experience it reasonably soon, but this seems not massively off what you'd statistically expect?

    You'd very naively expect about 28% to be over 50. And raw figures don't accommodate people retiring early, or "techies" now working in startups which clearly have no long term validity (cf Theranos)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Indeed. What is the percentage of >50 in the general working population? In the population as a whole?

    2. Trixr

      And also how it's only been in relatively recent years that IT has broadened out so much in terms of specialities. A lot of people in their 50s and up would have gotten into the profession when you had four people (max) running the main university server farm, plus maybe a couple of people doing student support. Maybe one or two running per-department servers. Try doing that with less than several dozen staff now.

      There really weren't that many jobs - I certainly didn't think of it as an option in my late teens/early 20s. People that did were heavily into maths, EE, or had a family member into computing. The whole focus of computing degrees was on programming or low-level hardware stuff.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I retired permanently at 57

    After almost 40 years in offices I just couldn’t do another “review” (justify your own existence).

    Having loads of IT experience often turned into me doing most of the work.

    I also chafed at working with self-important 25 year old “Social Media experts”.

    I also refused to stand during the frequent “standing meetings”.

    Bah!

  27. chololennon
    Unhappy

    For seniors, IT world is complicated...

    I am almost 50... +30 years of C/C++ (currently learning Rust), 15 of Java/Python, 2 of Typescript among many other programming languages, AWS, SQL/No-SQL, English/Spanish/French, etc etc. Even with my daily super effort to stay up to date with new technologies guess what... unemployed since July 2022 :-( (note: I don't live in the UK)

    As others said here, companies/HR prefer young staff because the payment is lower and also, they are easily manipulated. Another thing to mention is the recruiting process... it's a mess, with a lot of non-sense (especially for senior developers) programming tests.

  28. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

    context

    Rashik Parmar. "The message must be that you can become an ethical, trusted and highly competent tech professional no matter what your background or age."

    I wonder why The Register mentioned only age while ignoring disability and women? https://www.bcs.org/articles-opinion-and-research/helping-over-50s-into-tech-jobs-can-support-government-s-silicon-valley-ambitions/

  29. gforce

    Finally, as a 69-year-old female techie I feel that my life is suddenly fulfilled.

  30. prandeamus

    Too many companies do not value their over-fifties.

    An experience from a few years back, between me and the company HR department

    Me: I see you don't offer any pension provision as an option. I would like you to consider offering one.

    HR: Most of our staff are in their twenties and prefer to make their own decisions about that

    Me: Yes, but I'm 50.

    HR: Most of our staff are in their twenties and prefer to make their own decisions

    Me: I'm sat here, and I'm 50. I'm in front of you. I'm not in my twenties. I would like the option, will you think about it?

    HR: Most of our staff are in their twenties and prefer

    Me: I'm not saying they have to opt in to a pension. But it would be an incentive for me if there were that option

    HR: Most of our staff are in their twenties

    I didn't hang around for long. Retention was not on their radar. (And yes, the situation in the UK would be different now as some elements of pension provision are mandatory. I'm nearly 60.)

  31. Ozz

    I'm the only one in my dept.

    I'm in an I.T. department of 14 people, and I'm the only one over 50. In fact, until earlier this year the rest of the department was under 40.

  32. Uncialist

    Why only 22% techies over 50

    Money.

    Companies believe they can get the same or more work out of younger staff for far less money. What they fail to appreciate is the wealth of experience of the finer aspects of human intercourse that results in far greater returns resulting from that personal contact.

    My company led by the salesman complained when as I as a technical sales assistant told a prospective customer he didn't need our compter system to satisfy his current requirement but could use existing software to solve hos problem. Salesman lost about £60k sale.

    Nine months later the same prospect came to our firm as a single supplier without going through tenders to multiple suppliers based solely on my previous recommendation. Total sale this time, £770k.

    I got hell for my original contact, never mentioned for the resulting sale.

    I left.

    What did I do differently to a younger techie?

    I asked the owner to tell me about his business and where he wanted to go.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    " making this vital profession attractive to a far broader range of people,"

    Ehh? Absolute brainfart.

    In IT anyone over 50 is kicked out in almost any company and definitely no-one is hiring anyone older than that. My company is a rare exception, but it is *really* rare.

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