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Cutting 'Old Heads' at IBM (propublica.org) 216

An anonymous reader shares a report: As the world's dominant technology firm, payrolls at International Business Machines swelled to nearly a quarter-million U.S. white-collar workers in the 1980s. Its profits helped underwrite a broad agenda of racial equality, equal pay for women and an unbeatable offer of great wages and something close to lifetime employment, all in return for unswerving loyalty. But when high tech suddenly started shifting and companies went global, IBM faced the changing landscape with a distinction most of its fiercest competitors didn't have: a large number of experienced and aging U.S. employees.

The company reacted with a strategy that, in the words of one confidential planning document, would "correct seniority mix." It slashed IBM's U.S. workforce by as much as three-quarters from its 1980s peak, replacing a substantial share with younger, less-experienced and lower-paid workers and sending many positions overseas. ProPublica estimates that in the past five years alone, IBM has eliminated more than 20,000 American employees ages 40 and over, about 60 percent of its estimated total U.S. job cuts during those years. In making these cuts, IBM has flouted or outflanked U.S. laws and regulations intended to protect later-career workers from age discrimination, according to a ProPublica review of internal company documents, legal filings and public records, as well as information provided via interviews and questionnaires filled out by more than 1,000 former IBM employees.

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Cutting 'Old Heads' at IBM

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 22, 2018 @10:13AM (#56305091)

    How much money could they have saved if the 40+ folks were still around to point out the historical mistakes they were making?

    • by mbourgon ( 186257 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @10:15AM (#56305105) Homepage

      You assume they would have listened and learned.

    • by skids ( 119237 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @11:09AM (#56305501) Homepage

      Who knows. It does strike me that the authentication bypass in the AMT management processor might have been just the sort of thing a seasoned C coder might have spotted.

    • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @11:35AM (#56305663) Homepage Journal

      You need several head-down coders to make stuff work.

      You need a lot fewer old hands to look things over and point out the problems.

      When Fat Lou Gerstner took over he essentially put everyone at IBM that didn't touch a product, deliver it, or face a customer on notice. Fortunately he spared the payroll department, but many mid managers disappeared. And so did many very capable people, some of whom went on to become IBM customers elsewhere.

      Now the work has changed dramatically over the 8-10 years, and the employees have to change also, and to whine that they have to be 'allowed to change' doesn't work. IBM is in the midst of a lot of changes, GS being one, and they are playing a dangerous game by ditching experience and embracing offshoring in the name of cost reduction. It's not fair, but little in life is fair.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Not about what you need.

        If you can't imagine new tasks with a literal army of experienced pros behind you, but all you can come up with, is to fire them, then I'm sorry, but you're the epitome of management failure.

        It is one of the few cases where failure might literally be epic!

        Hell, let *them* come up with new ideas, ventures, hell, you could create entire new fields, take over whole industries, and still have 100k people to do more!

        You don't want them?
        Give them to me!
        Five years and I will buy your entire

        • by mikael ( 484 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @12:10PM (#56305849)

          UK companies did that - they were safe slow growth established products type companies. The profit margins weren't high but they were safe and guaranteed. That was good for pension fund managers who invested in 20 year time scales. But that wasn't good enough for the shareholders who wanted these companies to be young, dynamic, taking risks, all-or-nothing type bets, so they got the executive boards to sell off those safe product lines and reassign their engineering teams into the high-risk new markets. If something didn't make the expected profits they closed that division and fired the engineers. Basically turning corporations back into startups. They ended up disappearing.

          Other companies had an internal job board that allows people to move around on their choice. They are still around.

          IBM fell for the "getting rid of the deadwood" policy that Wall Street loved. Whenever job losses were announced, the stock price would rise, just because. Only years later, they realized they had lost all their institutional knowledge.

          • by ISoldat53 ( 977164 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @12:16PM (#56305873)
            I can't wait for AI to take over Wall Street and put the traders out of business.
            • by mikael ( 484 )

              Speed-of-light trading. Electronic systems automatically make PUT and CALL options on share prices. If the price doesn't rose or fall as expected, the trade is cancelled. These are done so fast that the ordinary home investor would never notice. The banks profit from the quantum fluctations of the stock market.

          • by niks42 ( 768188 )
            The Design Authority lead I used to work for in IBM pinged me on Sametime one sunny morning. Hi, says he, as anon, another young architect was invited to join the chat .. I've decided to make anon the lead architect on the next release of CRM .. OK?

            I ran round to his office and barged in - why would you sidestep me for the role? I do all the work, I have proved myself on this programme etc etc. And how DARE you tell me in that way? Well, he says, this is an excellent career opportunity for anon, and let'
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Daemonik ( 171801 )
          Absolutely none of this is about product however. Perfectly profitable products with decades of guaranteed revenue ahead of them get cut every day because they're seen as dead ends. Everything IBM is doing is about their stock portfolio.
      • You need several head-down coders to make stuff work.

        You need a lot fewer old hands to look things over and point out the problems.

        When Fat Lou Gerstner took over he essentially put everyone at IBM that didn't touch a product, deliver it, or face a customer on notice. Fortunately he spared the payroll department, but many mid managers disappeared. And so did many very capable people, some of whom went on to become IBM customers elsewhere.

        Now the work has changed dramatically over the 8-10 years, and the employees have to change also, and to whine that they have to be 'allowed to change' doesn't work. IBM is in the midst of a lot of changes, GS being one, and they are playing a dangerous game by ditching experience and embracing offshoring in the name of cost reduction. It's not fair, but little in life is fair.

        Is off shore where IBM and other companies are finding business growth. The USA market is saturated and is highly competitive. Foreign lands offer better opportunity than the domestic European/American market places.

        The rules is: Go where your customers are located.

    • How much of it is dead weight promoting and developing stillborn technologies like ClearCase, JazzSCM, DOORS, etc?

      IBM has a massive catalog of terrible software that they like to shove down the throats of businesses. Business are realizing that stuff like Git is a lot cheaper in the long run.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ebh ( 116526 )

        IBM shot themselves in the foot with ClearCase. It (the entire product line) is so insanely expensive that it really is cheaper to replace it all with FOSS and pay extra people to glue it all together. Worse, you still have to deal with IBM when buying it--their sales "force" would make me want to die of cancer before buying the cure from them.

    • Exactly, typical shortsightedness of MBA folks who have zero respect for experience.

  • by DeplorableCodeMonkey ( 4828467 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @10:16AM (#56305111)

    The tech industry doesn't want to face the fact that its pro-immigration, pro-outsourcing, pro-get-it-done-no-matter-who-gets-fucked culture makes this necessary. Most of the clamoring for a UBI is essentially this if you read between the lines:

    I'm not going to change how I do business, so you better change the welfare system to not inconvenience me.

    If we punished outsourcing, H1B use, etc. with hefty FICA taxes levied on their users, we could not only create more domestic jobs, but help reduce the deficits in our welfare system.

    • by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @10:29AM (#56305207)

      You mean the corporate welfare system, where corporations stash profits overseas, and find ways to pay not one cent of US Federal taxes? The one that so vastly underpays its employees that the employees have to get government assistance for basics like food and housing-- not to mention the screaming costs of health care?

      BizAmericaInc has been playing both sides of the issue for decades. Corporations are mandated to provide a maximized return for shareholders, and can be sued if they don't. The very phrase "Corporate Citizen" has become an excuse to flaunt the law, and kill the very idea of seniority as a base of pay. They'll make it up by spending face-saving PR to give themselves the make-over of goodness, then bribe a politician to get the legislation or taxpayer-funded growth bonds needed to continue to screw the system. Bah.

      • by DeplorableCodeMonkey ( 4828467 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @10:46AM (#56305347)

        You mean the corporate welfare system, where corporations stash profits overseas, and find ways to pay not one cent of US Federal taxes? The one that so vastly underpays its employees that the employees have to get government assistance for basics like food and housing-- not to mention the screaming costs of health care?

        No, I mean Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are going bankrupt because companies can send all of those taxable positions overseas without facing any consequences. Employers should be given a good set of choices:

        1. Be part of society, participate in the safety net and pay very low corporate income taxes.
        2. Exist on the margins to hedge your bets and pay through the nose.

        If IBM had another 50k American workers tomorrow, all of those employees would be paying income and FICA taxes. IBM would be paying employer share FICA. IBM would then be justified in demanding a 5-10% tax rate and not a 25%+ rate because they're putting a lot of people to work and funding the safety net which is the lion's share of the budget.

      • by Rob Y. ( 110975 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @11:10AM (#56305507)

        Well, not that they did it for the right reasons, but the fact that the new tax bill makes it less beneficial to stash corporate profits overseas, at least that will be less of an issue in the future. Of course, no attempt was made to make up for the reduced corporate tax rates - and in fact, the expected one time windfall from repatriated foreign profits was used to portray the cost of the bill as lower than it really is (no dishonest rationale went unused).

        Deficits be damned - or used as a reason to cut Social Security, etc., because Republican ideologues have no shame. They also have no genuine ideology - and what they have is merely a fig leaf to maximize the benefits to their donors. Sure, maybe some of them are stupid enough to believe that trickle-down economics works. But if you're smart enough to get elected based on lies, I'm gonna assume you're also smart enough to know you're lying. Not all of them are flat out psychopaths.

        • So the nations of the world should just participate in a race to the bottom until corporations are the only ones with money?
          • So the nations of the world should just participate in a race to the bottom until corporations are the only ones with money?

            The corporations and all the people working for them, yes.

            Far better companies paying for real work have money than governments hoarding money for an elite group of people that cannot be fired or have any legal competition.

            • Well there goes the American way of life... Companies already hire where the workers are cheapest, and will be relying heavily on AI so very few people working in the US. Corporations better start to pick up the tab for social services and other government functions because there won't be enough income tax to afford it all.
      • The very phrase "Corporate Citizen" has become an excuse to flaunt the law

        They wave it around in a boastful manner?

      • by i286NiNJA ( 2558547 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @01:14PM (#56306337) Journal

        Corporations are mandated to provide a maximized return for shareholders, and can be sued if they don't.

        This is a popular meme but it was invented to absolve psychopath decision makers of responsibility. The reality is that this rarely actually happens and though I am not a lawyer I it seems to me that CxOs regularly engage in even more negligent behavior in pursuit of short term profits.

        There is only the weakest of mandates that they maximize shareholder value, I am fuzzy on the details but it's along the lines that they actually do their job.

    • by TheDarkMaster ( 1292526 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @10:38AM (#56305281)
      I doubt the UBI has any relation with this case... The problem is that the famous 1% are very determined to profit even more regardless of the consequences, and the UBI is just one of the attempts to mitigate these consequences to avoid a social disaster that may, among other things, wipe out the country itself.

      I would have gone to the root of the problem and killed the 1%.
      • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @12:18PM (#56305887) Homepage

        It's not that the 1% want to be richer.

        It's that they want to wipe out the middle class. If there is no middle class to donate to politicians, then buying politicians becomes cheaper because they don't have to be in a bidding war with socialist-leaning workers, in order to buy Policy. (which includes tax cuts, deregulation, and immunity from the justice system that the rest of us must obey).

      • by jasenj1 ( 575309 )

        If you live in the USA, you are the 1% - globally speaking.

        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          The USA is around 5% of the population of the planet. We can't be 1% unless you do some very strange math involving all the dead people on Earth who ever lived.

    • If we punished outsourcing, H1B use, etc. with hefty FICA taxes levied on their users, we could not only create more domestic jobs, but help reduce the deficits in our welfare system.

      Like the hedge fund bro tax, wasn't this another campaign promise that went nowhere?

    • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @11:09AM (#56305497)

      The biggest threat UBI addresses is automation, and nobody has yet proposed an effective way to tax that. There's a persistent myth that automation will always simply open new opportunities, new kinds of jobs, while eliminating the old ones, but that ignores exactly what is being automated.

      Consider: the industrial revolution with its rapid advancement in mechanized labor largely eliminated those whose place in the workforce was providing brute strength. Humans have a lot more to offer than that, but the labor market for horses and mules never recovered, contributing heavily to the US population crashing from around 22 million in 1900 to only 3 million by 1960.

      Today, increasingly dexterous robots are pushing humans into ever-smaller roles on the assembly line, it won't be long before their dexterity exceeds our own, and the only role for humans there will be in roles exercising judgment. Meanwhile AI is rapidly catching up with us in terms of domain specific judgement - we already have AI beginning to outperform lawyers, pathologists, etc. in specific contexts. And there's just not really a whole lot of demand for broad-spectrum good judgement within the economy - and frankly, there's not a lot of humans that possess it anyway. That pretty much leaves what, art and receptionists?

      And everyone working those service and luxury jobs will still need to buy all the staples - food, housing, durable goods, so the flow of wealth from the population to the production industries will continue unabated despite automation, but there will no longer be a reciprocal flow of wealth from the production industries to the general population (the former blue-collar employees), which is completely unsustainable. It only takes a handful of people to maintain and manage a fully automated factory or farm, and they can't hope to buy enough service and entertainment to transfer enough wealth to the general population to allow them to purchase all the goods being produced.

    • > Most of the clamoring for a UBI is essentially this if you read between the lines

      Bullshit. Most of the UBI clamoring is instead directed at addressing massive poverty even with "full time" workers. Look no further than one of the country's largest employers - Walmart. Most 'full time' work there is 31 hours a week at minimum wage and many of those full time workers are also on the food stamp program because they make so little they qualify. The same story can be told for millions of workers in simi

  • for Circuit City. Get rid of all the experienced older employees replace them with employees that had no reason to care about their jobs, then go bankrupt.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 22, 2018 @10:39AM (#56305289)

      IBM has been doing this for 30 years now and it is working quite well - unfortunately. So, don't kid yourself or let anyone tell you that they are failing at it.

      When you're tech worker who's thrown on the street in your 40s, you're out of the game.

      Retraining is a fairy tale - I have thousands in debt to prove it. A retired manager confided to me, "The reality is if we have a choice between two candidates with similar skills, we're going to go for the younger one."

      Notice the word "similar".

      And the adage that if you have the skills, you'll get a job is just a feel good phrase that gives comfort to the folks who still have jobs and allows them to delude themselves into thinking it won't happen to them.

      Tech is a shit field if you want to work in for the rest of your life.

      • "The reality is if we have a choice between two candidates with similar skills, we're going to go for the younger one."

        Younger people can be paid less to start with, and if slashdot is anything to go by they are happy to do huge amounts of unpaid overtime on top.

      • by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @11:16AM (#56305545)
        Solution: Government or public university work. Job security and 4-5 wks of vaca are features, not bugs.
        • Solution: Government or public university work. Job security and 4-5 wks of vaca are features, not bugs.

          It should also be pointed out that "tech" is a very broad swath of job categories. Tech support, operations support and software development are all very different kinds of jobs, and very different job markets.

      • When you're tech worker who's thrown on the street in your 40s, you're out of the game.

        Why can't these 'tech workers' who are 40+ practice, study, learn, get a new job? I'm a tech worker in my 50s. I'm a principal engineer with some lead experience. In my last job search, I interviewed 4 times and got 4 job offers. I'm in seattle, and I'm a middle aged white guy, so how come I can get a job? Because I study, learn the new variants of c++. I also picked a few 'test interviews' with companies I had no interest in to practice on (uber was one). You do the interview on the phone with a computer.

      • It is rather questionable to say that it has been working quite well for IBM. When they started this, they were one of the biggest businesses in the world. The biggest reason they are still in business is because when IBM started this process they owned a huge amount of extremely valuable real estate. I have not been tracking their real estate holdings, but I am pretty sure they have sold off a large chunk of it as part of this same process. Management would claim that the real estate they sold was because
  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @10:19AM (#56305129)

    Enforce the H1B laws and up the H1B min wage to at least 80-150K based on COL.

    • by jeff4747 ( 256583 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @11:49AM (#56305735)

      H1Bs are currently handed out by a lottery. Instead, hand them out based on the salary of the employee, highest-paid first.

      Really need an H1B employee? Gonna have to pay more.

      • by m00sh ( 2538182 )

        H1Bs are currently handed out by a lottery. Instead, hand them out based on the salary of the employee, highest-paid first.

        Really need an H1B employee? Gonna have to pay more.

        This will heavily bias H1B towards the east and west coast.

        Lottery unfortunately is the most fair way to do it.

        • H1Bs are currently handed out by a lottery. Instead, hand them out based on the salary of the employee, highest-paid first.

          Really need an H1B employee? Gonna have to pay more.

          This will heavily bias H1B towards the east and west coast.

          Lottery unfortunately is the most fair way to do it.

          You could apply regional adjustments. Relative cost of living is well-known and there are standard adjustment tables that big corporations use when they move employees around. Just apply those to normalize the salaries, then sort.

        • Cost of living adjustments exist.

  • by jimbolauski ( 882977 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @10:19AM (#56305131) Journal
    If your cost out weighs your production you are expendable, if you are on the other side of the ratio get a raise of find someone who will pay you your market value. Cut throat policies can cut both ways.
    • by m00sh ( 2538182 )

      If your cost out weighs your production you are expendable, if you are on the other side of the ratio get a raise of find someone who will pay you your market value. Cut throat policies can cut both ways.

      Exactly. They can lay off whoever they want and workers can choose to work for whichever employer they want.

      IBM's stock has been performing appallingly. Obviously laying off older employees didn't work.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 22, 2018 @10:25AM (#56305173)
    I was a contractor at IBM ten years ago. I wasn't hard to find accounts from IBM FTEs about how it was nearly impossible for an experienced IBMer (i.e., the older people) to be considered for open positions---all those jobs were getting filled by IBM India, IBM Argentina, etc. Even contractors were feeling the bite: frequent furloughs (four times during the last year I was working with them), no rate increases from year to year. Unless you're a Ph.D. in a field IBM is doing basic research in or maybe a bean counter, I cannot imagine that anyone would consider Big Blue as a career option. I certainly laugh after I get off the phone with recruiters looking to fill contracting positions with them.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Worked for several compaines, here's what I leaned.
      Be a team player, be loyal, work ovetime without pay, show up no mater the weather, on-time.
      As soon as your pay gets closer to being fair, your job is history.
      Loyal employee works in one direction only, the company doen't care about us, they care about the cash.
      Don't be a fool and believe you are special, have unreplacable talent or whatever, they will get rid anyone to save a buck.
      Seen it happen to many fantastic people, soon as they found a cheaper employ

  • Pro publica is the Sherlock, investigating Watson?
    • Re:No shit Sherlock! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @11:01AM (#56305433) Homepage Journal

      This report sounds legit, although I'm automatically-skeptical because every article I've read by ProPublica (except the one where they mentioned my Congressional campaign in a favorable light) has been deceptive and misleading, arranging facts in such a way as to draw incorrect conclusions and create unfair attacks on organizations people trust.

      With the American Red Cross, they've repeatedly published the organization's leaked Lessons Learned--memos which state where they encountered difficulties and problems, and what to do about it in the future (or what to have further discussions over)--and claimed Red Cross is hiding and ignoring serious operating problems and generally wasting money. With Amazon, they went as far as claiming Amazon's offer being the cheapest was a lie because Amazon's offer has free shipping and "let's suppose shipping costs $6--now the competitor is cheaper!" Both of these roll off into bigger discussions that get heavily face-palmy, but let's avoid that here.

      The first thing that sticks out here is IBM's memo, shown in part in the article [propublica.org]:

      Just as importantly, businesses need the gray hairs just as much as the old heads need and want the work. What businesses can't afford to do is simply rehire their experienced workers and put them back into their old jobs. Businesses have to think smarter than that. They need to leverage the experienced and practical intelligence of mature people, and get them to work with younger colleagues and reinvest their experience back into the business.

      ProPublica adds:

      While recognizing that older workers were important to high-tech employers such as IBM, it concluded that “successor generations are generally much more innovative and receptive to technology than baby boomers.”

      These are not mutually-exclusive facts. They can both be true. That doesn't seem to get in the way of a good story:

      The message was clear. To succeed at the new technologies, the company must, in the words of the presentation, “become one with the Millennial mindset.” Similar language found its way into a variety of IBM presentations in subsequent years.

      I'm not saying IBM did nothing wrong--I need more facts for this--but the tone of the ProPublica article is one centered around generating a certain bias, a way of thinking about statements. "We need to appeal to a younger crowd"? "We need to bring in newer college graduates and their familiarity with new technologies"? Are these discriminatory? Well, okay, yes. So is selling youth baseball bats. Are they discriminatory in a manner of attack, or a manner of trying to extend business to meet modern trends?

      I see here IBM making an up-front statement that the future is not throwing out the old and bringing in the new, but rather that the world is changing and that they must bring in the new and adapt to that change without making the mistake of discarding their experienced and important engineers. Yes, they're saying, "Hey, we specifically need to hire younger people to draw what they know and how they think into our corporate culture and organizational knowledge." That's a valid technical concern, although some old folks do behave as outliers and keep up on technology while also having that mindset common among the younger--and they should be hired if qualified.

      None of that excuses abuses like this:

      Paul Henry, a 61-year-old IBM sales and technical specialist who loved being on the road, had just returned to his Columbus home from a business trip in August 2016 when he learned he’d been let go. When he asked why, he said an executive told him to “keep your mouth shut and go quietly.”

      Or especially like this:

      Encouraged employees targeted for layof

  • IBM Hates the Old (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Only Time Will Tell ( 5213883 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @10:41AM (#56305301)
    This shouldn't be news. IBM has been laying off older workers for a while now. My dad was a senior DBA in his group and was used as a model for some of the DB/2 certifications, but was released by IBM due to age. He never had any performance issues and was well liked. As a further blow, IBM laid him off a few days before Christmas. Thankfully he found another job quickly, but not until the new year and a very stressful holiday for the family. Any IBMer approaching middle age should worry about their longevity with the company.
    • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @12:10PM (#56305843) Homepage

      There are many companies that are flushing out the old; or eschewing them.

      There's a mistaken impression among management that it is not possible to teach "old engineers" new technologies. This may be true, but not among the older workers I have known. I do see a lot of resistance to the recent (last 2-3 years) move to cloud-based devops automation technologies. But I just got out of a 10 year stint at a company where this was a problem. A resistance to change: It was NOT driven by the older engineers. It was driven by customers who didn't understand the new model. It was driven by customers with tight security requirements who trust isolated air-gapped networks - not cloud deployment. It was especially driven by upper management who wanted a physical asset they could own in the data center, not a cloud instance that could evaporate in seconds. "Older" engineers spent weeks and months of their own time learning new technologies - while management insisted they keep doing projects the old way.

      The layoffs were brutal - but I guarantee, they did not touch upper management, and they did not change the failed ways they tried to persuade customers to migrate. (I don't know the ending of this story for them - because I left. But I am pretty certain they're going to suffer a great deal more pain).

      My extended time looking for a new job shows that almost every tech company out there is in the middle of this migration, and they're looking to overturn their old workforce (at least in IT/OPS) who refuse to play along. My advice to those workers: Learn the new skills. Get out. Your old management will not change, they will fight every effort for you to migrate your skills to keep up with the younger workforce, and they will leave you aimless and spinning off in every direction unless you take charge of your own career direction. And they will make you the scapegoat.

  • by RogueWarrior65 ( 678876 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @10:48AM (#56305359)

    Will always overcome youth and skill. Beware, millenials, you won't know what hit you.

  • when they're actively exposing your flank. At least in America we've been putting right wing pro-corporate politicians in charge since Reagan. At the moment one party controls all branches of government except a few state legislatures and that party has deregulation and free competition as a central plank of the party. Like it or not age discrimination is a regulation.

    If you buy into the theory that regulation stifles business and kills jobs then it follows that age discrimination is both harmful and un
  • by Hasaf ( 3744357 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @11:09AM (#56305495)

    But then, maybe I am a survivor. I got laid off and never seemed to bounce back. I saw some of my friends languish and eventually become unemployable.

    I decided to "retrain." I now teach at a middle school. Depending on the students or the class, I teach Word, Photoshop and Excel, which substitutes for a High School class that teaches the same. In another class I each robotics, starting with the Lego EV-3 and expanding into the Arduino boards. no, it isn't exciting; but it is keeping me from unemployment.

    All that being said, there needs to be a reworking of the labour relationship in the US. The Social Security retirement age is unrealistically high and private pensions have evaporated. At the same time people are seen as "used up" at earlier ages with each passing decade. Someone will inevitably chime in with some small exception; but the reality is that the labour potential of people 50-70 is being unrealized at the same time that they are treated as being too young for most forms of retirement safety nets.

    • Lower retirement age? Like this is going to happen given the politics of today.
      Yes I am there too and I am not behind in tech (love it and learn anything I can everyday) but I did experience 'friction' whenever I try to interview.

      So, push all elderly workers over the cliff is the current 'market regulation'... ...wait...WAIT! stop pushing me.....aaaa...thump!

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      That is a better off position than having the stress of a senior management position trapped between the CEO and shareholders wanting costs kept down, constant project reports, worrying about whether your engineers are going to leave for a startup. Robotics is an in demand field, especially with animatronics and autonomous vehicles. When I see something like this, I wonder how easy it is to make:

      http://www.kwaddle.com/program... [kwaddle.com]

      With every software position I've had, the company would advertise for the posit

  • that when IBM started getting rid of experienced workers that their heyday was over. About the only big innovation I can think of from IBM since the 80's is Watson, and I think the core of that the core of many of their R&D teams are largely made up of "experienced" researchers.

    Agism is just plan stupid. The idea that older people aren't good in tech is a dangerous fallacy.
  • IBM sucked then, it sucks now and it will suck in the future.
    I just don't know who the old farts are that still give them their business.

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @12:11PM (#56305851) Journal

    Let's face it, the tech industry just does not like us oldbies. We have to come to terms with it. IT is highly driven by fads, and it takes a suspension of common sense and reason to fake enthusiasm for silly fads. Microservices for non-web-scale projects that bloats the app by 300%, no-sql for medium projects, Node.js, flat UI's where you cannot tell what a button is, "responsive" Bootstrap that wastes screen space AND still doesn't shrink right on mobile devices without 93.28 hours of fiddling per screen on 7 brands.

    Nobody uses mobile for our software anyhow: it's for office work. The user even complains about the wasted space, and the youngie says, "But that's the new thing! See, it can reformat on smart-phones! Isn't that neeto!?" The user then says, "nice, kid, but we use desktops here. We intentionally purchased big monitors so we don't have to scroll. Your bloated rewrite makes us have to scroll." The kid ponders a few days, and then says, "We'll, we can toss Bootstrap and start all over again learning the latest UI Javascript gizmo that wastes 3% less space than Bootstrap. Rinse, repeat when a new one comes that wastes 6% less space..."

    Old people can spot BS and waste better, but PHB's don't like their BS being exposed. They want kissup, not logic. Trumpish egos and attention-spans are the rule, not the exception in management. He got rich by following, dishing, and catering to bullshit and architecture/redecoration fads. It's why he watches so much TV. The PHB's want young naive snot-nosed kids who think every dumb fad is the greatest invention, which to them it is because it's all they know: they haven't seen the other 27 fads that got dumped on the trash pile or squirmed into tiny niche corners where they belong.

    It would be more satisfying having a career where long-time knowledge and experience is actually valued. Although doctors have to face new medicines and treatments, the human body hasn't changed in 150,000 years. Per lawyers, the laws don't change that much either, roughly 1% or less a year.

    Our eyes and fingers get slower with time, we cannot realistically keep up with ever changing IT fads like younglings do. Young people seem to have a Fad Lobe in their brain that older people have lost over time.

    • Yeah, when I worked for Sharp Labs, one manager spent $100,000 to license another company's HTTP server. It had several bugs written against it, so I spent Christmas break writing a much simpler HTTP server from scratch that fixed all the bugs... which really pissed my new manager off, how DARE I fix things without review (everybody else was on vacation) and make their purchase decisions look stupid?
    • by Memnos ( 937795 )

      This post is to notify you that I am appropriating the term Fad Lobe as my own.

  • My friend worked as a software developer for IBM at one point. They were literally forced to leave the building at 5pm, not allowed to stick around and finish what they were doing. As a software developer that at times worked 12 hours straight, that seemed incredibly nonproductive.
    • If you need 12 hours to do what other can do in 7-8 hours, maybe you should question yourself. And you probably don't have children and a wife because at this rate (12 hours a day), this is a divorce you will have to deal with and maybe a burn-out.

  • by FeelGood314 ( 2516288 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @01:32PM (#56306497)
    IBM couldn't evaluate the value of it's workers. In a lot of places senior management really didn't understand what groups did so they came up with different metrics. Unfortunately the metrics often didn't make sense and were eventually gamed. One metric, the amount of time people spent on billable work got totally out of control. Secretaries were all fired because they never did work directly billable against a customer. Company meetings were held at lunch so they wouldn't count against total time. Training budgets were left unspent. IT was internally outsourced, sort of. IT became so incompetent each group had to maintain there computers on their own in spite of it. Older workers had more vacation time which would lower the billable percentage of a group. You could be the most amazing worker in the company but if you had 5 weeks of vacation you were toxic to your groups metrics.

    I worked in a secure lab in Ottawa. We were screwed because we didn't fit in the metrics correctly. We billed up to $6000 USD an hour but lost money according to IBM accounting. We had to do our own sales but since we were classified as a delivery group had to give half our revenue to another sales group so that the sales could be counted by a sales group. When we made a sale in another geographic region we would give half the sale to a local sales group and half to the one in the other region. 4 guys, 1 weeks worth of work, bill the customer $250K and we are getting grilled for losing money. Oh, and the grilling counted against our billable hours.
  • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @01:54PM (#56306701)

    Who posts there is no age discrimination.

    There's always one. Probably from Google (currently being sued by over 200 people including one their automated software picked 4 times only to be rejected by young managers). You know, google employees have posted here in the past that old people wouldn't fit their culture.

    Something familiar about that statement..

    "Women won't fit our culture"
    "Blacks won't fit our culture"
    "Irish won't fit our culture"

    We need to bust these companies. but also we need to move health care away from companies. A young employee costs the company much less than an old employee and it creates a perverse incentive to lay off older employees. There are other reasons, but that one would be easy to fix. National health care also helps older people, and younger people (who are sick), to start their own businesses.

    Part of it is simply oncoming automation.

    Part of it is simply much lower wages in other countries.

    It is a complex situation. But I know a lot of *50* year olds who got laid off and never worked in the field again. Some still were not working 5 years later.

    Listen up young folks- I started saving *hard* at 33. I lived on half of what I made after I saw this stuff happen and after i went thru a struggle with cancer. I retired at 51. My date was one day after my corporation laid off 500 people and went to Infosys. I kept it close to the vest and they had no idea why I was so happy (severance and unemployment free on top of my already sufficient retirement). Be in the same boat. Keep working on your skills but save hard.

    I think age discrimination is going to get much worse as automation increases. And safetynets are already being cut by Republicans. I don't know why *anyone* who wasn't wealthy that was over 40 would vote republican for any reason outside of guns and abortion. It's like slitting your own throat. But I can respect people who vote republican because they are opposed to abortion (even tho I'm not opposed myself). The guns have gotten a bit more iffy. Gun enthusiasts are supporting weapons with killing power exceeding that of weapons we already ban or regulate heavily. If gun enthusiasts don't get reasonable, they are going to lose big after a few more massacres of children.

  • 1) Do a really good job year after year.

    2) Get good reviews and good raises and bonuses.

    3) Newly hired 21 year old MBA decides that "those old people" make too much money.

    4) Firing is done by salary and no other significant criteria, selectively cutting anybody who's been a consistently good performer.

    5) What's left is... what's left. When the *real* mess finally comes home to roost, 21-year old MBA has already been promoted or moved to another job. No consequences.

    The age laws, are of course, toothless. Co

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian

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