Age or beauty? Sometimes it’s both

Employers shouldn’t be so determined to miss out on some business solutions. PAUL WALLBANK

Paul Wallbank Tech Talk blog

By Paul Wallbank

The passing of the world’s oldest blogger is a reminder you are never too old to learn about technology and the risks business owners make when we ignore older workers.

When we talk about staff and computers, it’s easy to make the mistake of thinking only a teenage digital native will be able to comprehend and navigate the newer technologies.

Anyone who thinks that should spend an hour at the Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association’s annual conference to see how flawed that fallacy is. At the local computer club there are folk who didn’t pick up a computer mouse until their sixties or seventies that will shame the smartest young computer whiz.

So age is not a barrier to learning about technology. Any manager who believes it is, isn’t just wrong but is squandering an important asset by overlooking the talents of their most experienced staff.

Of all the challenges facing entrepreneurs three of the most pressing are the skills shortage, retaining good staff and an ageing population. Disregarding older workers misses a solution that addresses all three of these problems.

We don’t need to be spending a lot of money or time on training workers. Technology companies spend a lot of time and effort trying to make their products easy to use and learn. While they sometimes don’t get it right and the learning curve can be steep, the days of needing a degree or understanding obscure commands are long gone.

In many cases the older workers already have the skills; they simply haven’t been asked to use them.

One of the saddest things I’ve found over the years are the number of skilled, savvy older workers who’ve been overlooked both internally and in the job market because of this perception about technology being a young person’s game.

Technology isn’t just for younger people; it’s for all of society and all of us need to embrace it if we want to be able to face future challenges. The businesses that overlook the assets sitting under their noses are the ones who will struggle meeting those challenges.

Using the talents of your existing staff and training up those who don’t have tech skills is a lot cheaper than finding new staff. If you are looking for new staff then ruling out older workers is cutting you out of a rich vein of talent.

Given the opportunities out there to savvy business operators, it’s a real shame to miss out on such an important pool of talent in our older workers.

 

Paul Wallbank is Australia’s most heard computer commentator with his regular computer advice spots on ABC Radio. He’s written five computer books and just finished the latest Australian adaptation of Internet for Dummies. Paul founded and built up a national IT support company, PC Rescue and has a free help website at IT Queries. Today he spends most of his time consulting and advising community and business groups on getting the most from their technology.

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