Why are so many older workers in today's workforce being replaced by younger more tech savvy individuals? Is this a problem? Job security is decreasing for people with many years of experience. 

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herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Let's look at your statement the way we would look at any thesis statement that needs to be researched. Your thesis statement assumes that there are "many" "older" workers being replaced by "younger" and "more tech savvy" individuals. 

Exactly how many are "so many"? What is the universal definition of "older" and "younger"? To what extent can someone be legally replaced by a "tech savvy" employee? What exactly makes you "tech savvy"?

For your statement and question to have validity it should uncover increasing activity (with quantitative data) that would confirm a "trend"; such a trend must be demonstrably increasing throughout a period of time, not just in one particular instance. Therefore, your question/thesis about replacing older people with younger people needs to be corroborated with statistics, as well as with contextual and collateral data, that would have to show without a doubt that this is, indeed, a current trend in the workforce. 

Based on the information that you will read below, the answer to your question is that replacing people due to age cannot even become a problem due to legal implications, and because of other variables you will see here. 

1. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)

ADEA states two very important mandates at the Federal level, violations of which are punishable by law: 

It shall be unlawful for an employer- (1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s age

It shall be unlawful for a labor organization- (1) to exclude or to expel from its membership, or otherwise to discriminate against, any individual because of his age

These two tenets are part of a much wider spectrum of rules pertaining to U.S. seniors and anyone who is being discriminated against because of age. The fact that there are rules in place for these procedures means that neither employees nor labor organizations can arbitrarily remove an employee from a current position based on loose facts such as age.

The only way that this could happen under the law is if an employee fails to meet the expectations of the organization, fails at work performance, or commits a crime. When a crime is committed then there is a legal route to take care of that in particular.

In the case of meeting expectations, the bargaining unit (also known as the worker's union) will step in to intervene and see how the employee's work performance can be rehabilitated.  

2. Technology is an ongoing learning process, not just isolated "training."

According to INC.com, a small business and entrepreneurial magazine, what businesses and organizations are currently doing is consistently training their staff in all areas of need, including technology. Since technology is an ongoing area that consistently changes, the trainings are quick, purposeful, and relevant to the goal of the workplace.

Moreover, applications and tech programs are optimized by the hour. It would be presumptuous to assume that "age" deters someone from learning a code, an algorithm, or even how to use a new program. Therefore, nobody is entirely tech savvy. The next new thing could happen today and no one would be fully prepared to engage with it immediately, not even the younger tech savvy kid. 

3. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 

the median age of working Americans—half the working population—is 40 or older

which means that

about half of America’s private sector workforce is now covered by the protections of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

There is ADEA again, and now you see evidence that the workforce in America is older already AND is working fine with the current technology. These statistics are showing beyond a doubt that the older are, or can become, just as "tech savvy" as the younger employees. It all comes down to a matter of personal choice: do I keep up with the times, or do I remain stagnant? The statistics show that the workforce in America is anything but stagnant. 
 
3. Psychological Science report
 
A study with over 200 participants was conducted in 2013 at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. The study compared older and younger workers in terms of consistency, effectiveness, speed, and reliability. The results were:
a) The younger and older employees had relatively no margin of difference in performance.
b) The lack of difference occurred because the older employees were able to compensate in areas where the younger employees were lackluster.
c) The areas where the younger employees were less impressive were consistency and reliability.
d) This means that the older employees eventually can catch up to the speedier, younger ones. 
The conclusion to your question will be finalized after you research more studies and more statistics from the government that will show you exactly how the workforce has changed. From there you should be able to see more trends forming, and you may establish a stronger thesis statement. These pointers, though, should help you move in the right direction. Good luck!
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amanda1226's profile pic

amanda1226 | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Older people are being replaced with younger, more tech savvy people because the technology is of utmost importance in today's business world and society as a whole. Many of these baby boomers and Gen Xers are not as familiar with technology as the millennials. Many of the millennials have grown up with a computer and internet access. In fact, many of them probably had access to a smart phone at a very young age. This familiarity and ability to manipulate technology in such a way that it is beneficial to an organization makes the younger generations more desirable.

I think this is a problem for the workforce. When an older worker is replaced with a newer, younger, more tech savvy individual, the organization and the workforce is setting itself up for what many are calling a "braindrain." This, simply put, is to say that when these older workers are gone, much of their knowledge and skills go with them, and a lot of that information can be helpful and beneficial to an organization and to the economy as a whole. It is very important for organizations to hold on to these older workers, and document their knowledge, have them mentor younger employees, and possibly shift them into new roles as they age so that they can document and access their knowledge a little longer.

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