Aging and Working in the New Economy

Aging and Working in the New Economy

Changing Career Structures in Small IT Firms

Edited by Julie Ann McMullin and Victor W. Marshall

The case studies and analyses developed in this timely book provide insight into the structural features of small and medium-sized firms in the information technology sector, and the implications of these features for the careers of people who are employed by them.

Chapter 7: Formal Training, Older Workers, and the IT Industry

Neil Charness and Mark C. Fox

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, organisational behaviour, social policy and sociology, ageing


Neil Charness and Mark C. Fox INTRODUCTION In 1990, a paper in the Monthly Labor Review noted (Anonymous, 1990) that there was little agreement on the definition of training in the workplace, though it is recognized that training decreases with age. In this chapter we examine some aspects of training, particularly, the relationship between formal training and age, as well as other demographic variables such as gender and work status. The goal is to understand some of the correlates of training for older workers, particularly for workers in the information technology (IT) industry. Why examine age and training? Some economists are concerned that an aging workforce is likely to be a less productive workforce (for example Jorgenson et al., 2004; Tang and MacLeod, 2006). The methodology employed in those macro-economic analyses relies on proxy variables for indices of worker productivity such as the level of university education in an aggregate unit such as a province or state (Tang and MacLeod, 2006). Psychologists, using micro-level analyses, examine the relation between age and individual productivity and typically find a near zero (McEvoy and Cascio, 1989; Waldman and Avolio, 1986) or slight positive (Sturman, 2004) relationship. Such analyses focus on individuals using both direct productivity measures, such as work items completed, and indirect ones, such as supervisor and peer ratings. A major difference between the two approaches to measuring productivity is that psychological studies of productivity typically ignore input costs (for example salary) whereas economic models usually incorporate such measures. The discrepancy between...

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