Older Workers in an Ageing Society
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Older Workers in an Ageing Society

Critical Topics in Research and Policy

Edited by Philip Taylor

Prolonging working lives is high on the agenda of policy makers in most of the world’s major industrialized nations. This book explains how they are keen to tackle issues associated with the ageing of populations, namely the funding of pension systems and predictions concerning a dwindling labour supply. Yet the recent history of older workers has primarily been one of premature exit from the labour force in the form of redundancy or early retirement. Add to this a previously plentiful supply of younger labour and it is clear that much of industry will be unprepared for the challenges of ageing workforces.
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Chapter 7: Job security in an insecure world: adaptations of older workers in the IT industry

Neil Charness


The beginning of the twenty-first century is proving to be a volatile period from the perspective of job security. At the same time, the ageing of the workforce is presenting employers and employees with new challenges in ensuring that the workforce remains cutting edge and highly productive in the face of worldwide competition. I review some of the hypotheses advanced by Sterns and Spokus (Chapter 6, this volume) concerning lifelong learning and the world of work and present some relevant data from the Workforce Ageing in the New Economy project, which examined ageing within small firms in the IT industry. Contrary to expectations from a career self-management perspective, older workers in this highly volatile sector are not more motivated to update skills than younger workers. Contrary to expectations from a bias against older workers perspective, older workers in IT do not seem to perceive much age discrimination from the perspective of training opportunities. These findings suggest that small firms, though rarely studied, can be a useful tool for investigating hypotheses and theories about work and ageing.

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