IT Employment

Enterprise software development: Do we have an age problem?

Larry Dignan thinks business technology may be in need of a youth movement as software developers flock to consumer applications.

This is a guest post from Larry Dignan of TechRepublic’s sister site ZDNet. You can follow Larry on his ZDNet blog Between the Lines, or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Business technology may be in need of a youth movement as software developers flock to consumer applications. Where will corporations find the next generation of enterprise software talent?

That question has come up a lot in recent days. The age factor in enterprise technology has become a common theme. To wit:

  • On the Enterprise Irregular email list, one member, who was recruiting developers for a startup, concluded that "the enterprise applications game is for the 30 and over crowd and is completely irrelevant to people under this age." He contrasted the talent environment today relative to 2000 when companies like PeopleSoft, i2 and Ariba were recruiting young bucks. Simply put, all the recruitment in enterprise technology revolves around people already in the corporate IT game. Where's the next generation?
  • At SAP Sapphire, you couldn't help but wonder about the same point raised above. There weren't a lot of 20-somethings pondering SAP, sustainability and in-memory databases.
  • Rimini Street CEO Seth Ravin noted that his recruiting focused on the older IT engineers. That move makes sense since Rimini Street specializes in supporting legacy applications. Ravin noted that he had a few 60-year-old folks running around the company. Ravin said he had little interest in building a farm team because experience provides more return on his engineering dollar.

The big question: Could Ravin build a farm team if he wanted to? The following thoughts are meant to spur an open thread and start a discussion. Are these fears about aging enterprise technology talent warranted?

A few initial thoughts:

  • It's unclear whether there's an age issue in enterprise technology. On the surface, an older demographic just makes sense. You simply become more business focused as you age. However, it could be disconcerting if no next generation emerges despite the market possibilities and big corporate challenges ahead.
  • Meanwhile, it's also possible that the young enterprise technology talent is going to next-gen business technology companies like Google, Salesforce.com and VMware.
  • And what's the effect of outsourcing? It's possible that the next-generation enterprise technology talent isn't in the U.S. Perhaps, the next generation of business technology talent is in India working on low-level services, but setting up to take over higher value projects. Have engineers been commoditized to the point where there's no interest from the younger set? In other words, an aging business technology workforce may be a side effect of hollowing out the talent pool due to outsourcing.
44 comments
mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

I can just see some guy with a phone that has a Wii interface screaming into the air and waving his hands around to manage his enterprise software with a cell phone through is facebook app. Now think of all the things people hate about cell phones and use this as a multiplier of the "it sucks" factor. New, young etc. is not always better, trust me on this.

fs
fs

In the late 1970s, when I started, recruiters sought out any college graduate with a math/quantitative college major or minor to become an IT trainee in a Fortune 500 company. Employers, however, did not want to give meaningful raises, so the result was job-hopping. The result of job-hopping is that employers became increasingly reluctant to train people. (What they _should_ have done is the hire trainees at much lower salaries, and given them 50% annual raises their first few years, but instead they relied on H1B visas and offshoring). In the late 1970s, when I started, you were qualified if you knew how to write algorithms in some programming language. Knowing JCL got you a fat raise. Nowadays, a developer has to know a few languages (e.g. Java, Javascript, a shell scripting language) and the APIs for dozens of tools and standards. This requires a much longer preparation, so one would expect computer programming to be a much higher paid occupation than it was forty years ago -- but thanks to H1B visas and off-shoring it's actually a somewhat lower-paid profession (after adjusting for inflation). Not only is the incentive for entry lower, but the barriers to entry are higher -- hence the aging workforce. Young people tend to gravitate towards newer technologies where they won't have to compete with people who already have many years of experience in the technology. My prediction is that as experienced enterprise developers age and retire, foreign workers now doing outsourcing will step in to do more and more. Should it becomes necessary, there will be enough new graduates desperate for a decent job -- any job -- to do whatever it takes to step into the breach and become maintenance programmers using old technologies.

tuomo
tuomo

Well said. When I started late 60's next 15+ years 1-2 months / year the company paid courses, seminars, conferences, etc and books, even university courses, etc - anyone remembers those days? This "knowing APIs, languages, etc" even before having really used them has caused more problems in programming than maybe anything else I can think! Out of school, courses, just certified, whatever - no one, and just no one(!) can remember even part of the APIs in one system, tens of thousands! It takes time and continuous usage - and, of course, the vendors change APIs all the time, they have to sell more training, the "new versions", and so on! It was fun maybe in 70's, not anymore! It's not that a program in computer does more today than then, same things, manipulate bits - but it's much more difficult to make an intelligent program in high level language today than it was earlier, less control! All these methods, objects, managed whatever, etc just tries to move the thinking from developer to tool - and it fails by default - a human is still better than any tool or toy when it comes to intelligence, still waiting the superior AI - LOL! And as @fs hints - new graduates start in maintenance but instead of as in earlier times when once learned the business (technology was / is easy) developers moved to new development, they today either will stay on maintenance and come obsolete or leave which causes problems for both employers and employees! Doesn't seem too much fun for younger generation, the corporations have created this situation where they have to find more less expensive "developers" - they still live in illusion that quantity gets faster and better results than quality when making babies, oops - systems!

WhiteKnight_
WhiteKnight_

Several Thoughts. 1. Observations a. Local Observation: In my shop (small - staff of 10) everyone is above 40. I'm pushing 55 myself. b. General Observation: We use a Oracle ERP product to run our business on. When I go to conferences (thousands of people) for these products I see very few young people. Generally mid-30's on up. 2. Opportunities From a local perspective (smaller Northwest city) . . . there's very few opportunities to break in to Enterprise software programming or even package customization / support. If I was a young person in school or or looking to finish school I'd look elsewhere - there's just not a lot of opportunities for people without experience - not in programming per se but in business software concepts - how things should work. 3. The impact of packages. Being an old fart, when I started in I.T. there were lots of opportunities to design and develop new business systems - and I did that. Today its foolish for a company to build their own business software when there's a package out there that can do the job. There's always some exception to the rule - but as a general rule for general busness software I believe this to be true. I learned so much in the design and development of systems that really can't be learned by just supporting them - so how do designers/developers today gain this in-depth knowlege? Not from school! Side comment: the original designers of today's major ERP systems are gone for the most part - and we see the lack of business perception and architecture knowledge in their replacements when we install an update, look at the changes, and say "huh? what in the world were they thinking (drinking?) when they made THAT change!". 4. The impact of Globalization as mentioned in the article a budding business developer today is not competing with local talent and wages - but with a global one. And unfortunately he/she is being underbid in the global marketplace. Net,net although there are exceptions, the market for a business applications software developer is much bleaker now in my opinion then in my earlier career, and its not surprising that many of those with talent look elsewhere. A bit about me. I've worked as a developer/analyst for little companies, big companies (fortune 100), and business software companies for over 30 years. Its been interesting to watch the sea changes occur.

grgoffe
grgoffe

Hi, Does anyone remember the old story about the young bull and the old bull? It is my feeling that this is what "us" older people bring to the table. Let's walk down and get them all. I have seen a lot of really cool algorithms that don't scale well. When I write code and test it, I'm ALWAYS thinking about the case where a LARGE number of entries are made. This is experience. Most of the businesses (enterprise and other) seem to be concerned with "time to market". "Just good enough" is their rule. Sometimes, "just good enough" will bite you where you sit. We see it all the time; Google is susceptible and, of course, Microsoft among others. They don't seem to have time/patience for the "A" student but are willing to go with the "C" student. Hmmm... What's wrong with this picture? Quality can not be tested into software, it has to be designed in. Ready, fire, aim is not the way to go. Regards, George...

lore1002
lore1002

If I was going to college right now, I would not consider IT since layoffs abound and so many of the jobs are going to India, China, Slovenia, Africa, etc. Alos, the salaries there (and here, for inshoring) are abysmally low. Until we have a fair wage throughout the world, I don't see that picture changing any time soon.

irozenberg
irozenberg

Liquid Modernity - try to find the book. It explains current IT paradigm why your 20+ experience in industry irrelevant and why your managers ALWAYS give you tasks/projects with technologies you have no clue about, but your experience allows you to catch up via heroic efforts anyway. In a supply/demand world age may be sometime relevant and sometime irrelevant (depends on status of the project you are joining).

jkameleon
jkameleon

People can always be trained on the job, but that costs money. Keeping them after the training can also be quite costly. It's not an age problem, but money problem.

Justin James
Justin James

Yeah, that's a good summary of the problem. Companies refuse to invest money/time into their employees, in large part because they assume that if they do, the employee will move onto another job before they get the return on investment. So everyone expects/demands that folks show up "work ready". When I was younger, I took those jobs with hip, cool, cutting edge companies partially because they looked like a lot of fun to work at, a bit because of the lure of stock options, and mostly because they were the only ones who would take a chance at hiring an untested kid with only a little bit of "real world experience". After a few of those jobs turned out really badly, the world of corporate IT started to look really good... it's nice to know that the CEO isn't using the payroll to pay the loan on his Porsche, you know? There's a time and a place in life to life in the world of the startups, and when there's a spouse, mortgage, and children, it's a lot harder to life that lifestyle. And keeping up with the cutting edge is a lot harder too as you develop other responsibilities. At the same time, it's pretty hard for a big company to justify sinking years into seasoning a younger person when they can find someone who has already been through the wringer and is ready to settle down into a more stable career. J.Ja

jkameleon
jkameleon

... startup customs & traditions are exactly the same :D

Matt Ambrose
Matt Ambrose

For years savvy IT pundits have been warning this day would come. We have been outsourcing/offshoring all of our low-level/entry-level IT work and now we are beginning to see the fallout. One of the best analogies I can provide is the Bricklayer / Stonecarver scenario: Bricklaying is a skilled job but it is entry-level work. Stonecarving on the other hand is a skill that takes years of experience to develop competency. Comparing masonry work to technology work we find there are two problems created... Problem 1 is that when the US started sending all the bricklayer jobs offshore they reduced/eliminated the pool of future stonecarvers. In classic terms they banished the "apprentices" from working with the "master craftsmen". Problem 2 is that the offshore companies have been creating massive workforces of bricklayers but not training many of them to be stonecarvers because that work was not available as outsourcing contracts. Now we are faced with only one place to turn, the old stonecarvers who have the talent to do the job right now ... but who probably won't be in the workforce long enough (years) to adequately train the next generation of stonecarvers from our existing supply of bricklayers. We are going to lose an enormous wealth of legacy knowledge because of this and H1B visas won't help here if there are only a very few truly talented stonecarvers in the world.

jkameleon
jkameleon

Namely, that apprentice-master craftsmen stuff. As far as I can tell, industry expects graduates to come from college ready for use.

BeingMe
BeingMe

They want a 25 year old employee who has 25 years experience in the field to work for 25,000 a year.

Justin James
Justin James

... I've been writing an article for another site making nearly an identical arguement. People don't realize that if we make it impossible (through unrealistic skill set expectations) or undesirable (via competition with offshoring) to break into the business, no one will try. We're seeing this already, as CS gradution rates are plummeting. The worst part is, as the graduation rate drops, companies have even more incentive to offshore and H1B, since there is an even smaller pool of talented entry-level people. J.Ja

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

First, the older developers, on average, have experience with the particular corporation or type of environment that they're developing for. They tend to know what is needed and write to that level. However, one thing I've personally seen is that they're given a direction to run and they seem to think they know it will work first-time, every-time. This also tends to build into a level of laziness by either cut-and-pasting existing code from a similar or previous effort or totally ignoring testing to the point that the software fails when brought into the productive environment, forcing a retraction and rework. This is something I've watched happen repeatedly in a single company over the last 10 years. Second, the younger developers seem to think a consumer app, modified, can perform for a corporate entity as it does for a single individual. I've heard new coders in the company mentioned above ask, "Why can't we use DragonTalk for that purpose?" Never mind that the company handles thousands of different calls a day, with thousands of different voices, quite honestly it simply can't scale to fit the needs of an environment made up of millions of people. It, again, looks like laziness where 'easy money' is more important than doing the job right. Now, this isn't to say all coders are like this. Honestly there are some very good, very conscientious individuals turning out some really good software. The problem is, it seems that for every good one, there's ten lazy ones pushing all the work onto the good one. Then when it comes time for performance reviews, they lay claim to a successful product as though they were the sole writer, and disavow any contact with a failed product, even if they were clearly assigned to that task. That's human nature, however. The perfectionist--the one who can see what's going to happen and tries to ensure it doesn't--gets little recognition for a job well done; they don't want it, either. This leaves the 'average' person to lay as much claim to every success as they can manage in order to make themselves look good. The good ones make themselves obvious by their abilities; the bad ones by their words. Be careful how you promote yourself; you might just talk yourself out of a job. There's another truism: "An employee only rises to his highest level of incompetency." I've seen this happen as well, one of those 'know it all' types promoted to a management position where he has no say over what he used to do, and little control over the people assigned to him. I've personally watched it happen twice within the company described above.

ps2goat
ps2goat

Lazy programmers are the ones that you want on your project. We don't want to write a lot of code just to get the project done quickly; we think about it for a little while, have a planned approach, and make sure that the solution is easily scalable. I've been working on the same, medium-sized government project for a while, and the project lead had me program something that would require expansion in the future. Instead of throwing it together, I built it for easy scalability and integration. Because I planned it out, it still took less time to implement, and later, I added new features within 10 minutes. And show me one programmer who doesn't use a form of cut and paste, and I'll show you either an inexperienced programmer or one who hasn't come into contact with good code. Cut and paste, especially cross-project, is where programmers dip their feet in the software engineering pool (which is coupling pieces of software together to create a solution).

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I've written a fair bit of 'erm less than perfect code in my time. I've seen even more. Lot's of reasons for that, but the least significant was skill level. That after all can be addressed in a fairly obvious way. The most significant reason that it isn't, is summed up with one phrase, that negates your entire post. "It'll do" After ten years in the business, you should know that quality is an overhead until someone complains, then of course, it's too late. It isn't a bolt on extra.

weiyin.han
weiyin.han

I have come across cases where most often than not, where the business couldn't wait for the proper development cycle of a program. I was a perfectionist before and now I have learned. Was once even told by my manager that we just have to give them what they want as "It'll do" and fix or patch it later when the customer complains. You can imagine what happened when the application needs to be scaled.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Basic ability to see lightning and hear thunder does the job just fine. :(

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

...especially when the customer base is hundreds of millions of people. Take any bank with an international presence, then give its customers an automated access point. Watch the chaos!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

As I asked over on ZDNet earlier today.

Justin James
Justin James

Just take a look at Columbia. Healthcare, financials, insurance... all run on COBOL. J.Ja

wjwood64
wjwood64

I'll have to give that some thought. The problem today is that there is SO MUCH RESUME FRAUD in the SAP / Oracle / ERP world that many companies just won't work with the 20 somethings. We have a LOT of the large and mid-sized integrators and the H1B sponsors to thank for the damage to the IT industry in general. And I'm not that concerned about the H1B's so long as there is some integrity. However, what do you expect when you get a 25 - 30 year old H1B who can hardly speak English show up for a project with 10+ years of EXPERIENCE on their resume? Did they start their SAP careers at 16 - 20 (like before they could have finished college?). This is a side effect of businesses getting sick of being ripped off by a completely unscrupulous industry with few if any checks and balances. Bill Wood - President R3Now Consulting

Jason Burke
Jason Burke

It seems to me the issue is as much about attractiveness as age. Enterprises applications have a long, rich history of...well, being enterprise applications: big, closed, slow to respond to market and technology changes, and suffering from low user satisfaction. Whether that perception is just or not, it is definitely out there. Yes, enterprise often equates to job security, but that is less of a concern prior to marriage and kids..."fun" is important, though. Add to that the evolving perspective that companies big and small may increasingly rely on employee-provided technology such as the iPad I am typing this on, and enterprise software just doesn't look as attractive as it did when us over-40 folks entered the job market. I believe some of the responsibility sits with the enterprise software vendors -- develop product strategies that are compelling, and talent young and old will show up on your doorstep.

Matt Ambrose
Matt Ambrose

If I am interviewing someone and I ask them "Which is more important to you: Contributing to our company's success or having a fun job?" Guess which way they are going to answer ... and guess who is going to NOT get the job if they say "fun". My point is that even the young turks know that employers expect results. Google is a fun place for SOME programmers, Apple too ... but they expect results just like any business. Your so call "fun" (AKA: sexiness) is what led to the waste of hundreds of millions of dollars as enterprise management were sold a bill-of-goods that small client/server systems were more scalable than mainframes for massive simultaneous transactions. In my years I have seen countless companies start and then kill such projects as they realized that the deep enterprise design of mainframes is the only architecture that can scale to their needs. I watched one company spend three years on a C/S scalable solution that was core to their growth plans: One year of design and coding, two years testing without success. In the end they had to dump all the hardware and reinstall the mainframes. And in case you want to think that their software design was flawed, four months after the mainframes were back online they had ported the core software design into the mainframe and went live with ZERO issues.

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

Always has, Always will. (Unless we all become neutered/spayed.)

Kevin
Kevin

No, there isn't an age problem.enterprise applications are founded on business principles. 20 somethings lack the problem domain knowledge and process discipline required. "fun" isn't an issue. The problem domain doesn't have to be fun, the work environment should be less up-tight. Enterprise software is , as I previously stated, based on business logic. That's a tough item to tell a business to change. Big business needs to change their management style from the current "babysitter", distrusting, naive management overseeing, to a more relaxed objective based, mobile workforce. why is it that we can outsource work to India 14 hours away, but can't allow a local worker to pick their hours? All that really counts is deadlines being met on time. Who cares if a developer works from midnight to 8 am or core business hours? The work environment needs a major overhaul and that is by cleaning house of 20 something MBA's running the IT house. More age and experience is needed there. It's all about the maturation process, both with developers and management.

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

"e work environment needs a major overhaul and that is by cleaning house of 20 something MBA's running the IT house." Unfortunately, those MBAs have been taught that profit is GOD, and who cares about the rest unless it really does increase profit dramatically. I won't rob an investor or CEO of profit making, but when you flush everything else down the tubes to get it... I agree, those MBAs need to be gone, or re-educated that money isn't the only return on invenstment worth anything, or cost cutting is the only solution to a bigger bottom line. An up-tight workplace does tend to smother and kill productivity and ingenuity. People need to relax a bit more, let employees do their jobs instead of micro-manage. Those that can't cut it will be evident enough, those that can, with less "over the shoulder" will improve, and those who are able, will feel better and do better too.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

But between young and old. The mising bit is the Y2K boomers, people who think you can do enterprise apps with access and a macro. Other than that I can pick out any number of people at either end of the longevity range only an idiot would employ to do anything more serious than catalog app for some CDs you didn't need. Attitude, then aptitude, 30 years writing single user desktop apps is a no more a suitable qualification for working in the enterprise than 6 months.

jkameleon
jkameleon

... can either be complete jerks, or incomplete jerks one can get along with. That's the only gap there is.

Hot_Coffee
Hot_Coffee

Anyone who thinks the younger generation isn't already both well versed on enterprise software development and actively contributing to its progression is either delusional or stupid. Completely agree that experience means a lot in the software world, but it doesn't mean everything. Speaking as a 25 year old enterprise software developer working for a Fortune 50 company, I constantly see developers even younger than myself running circles around the older folks. That's not to say the guys with 30 years of experience under their belts aren't valuable, I'm just saying that younger engineers can add equivalent value. It appears to me that anyone who thinks they can run a development shop with people who are 30 and older only has one fate, and that's rendering themselves irrelevant. The younger generation is what pushes technology in new directions, and without any of them on your team, you'll be spending most of your time looking at the help wanted ads and the obituaries.

kovachevg
kovachevg

You are absolutely right that young engineers can add value. No question about it. However, the article aptly points to trends that work against the new generation of developers. Outsourcing is listed last but it should have been listed first. A lot of decent developers lost their jobs due to the credit crunch and corporate greed - the CEOs could have save all of those developers if they had forgone their fat bonuses for year or sacrificed a slice of the profit margins. It did not happen. Now these developers tell their kids and friend not to go for computer science and related fields. IT has a bad reputation because of all the people that got burnt and that is precisely where the article hits the nail on the head. Older developers offer several advantages: 1. They can pick up new technologies faster because they are familiar with the older ones. For example, if you worked with Struts 1, it would be much easier to pick up Struts 2. If you know Servlets and JSP, it is a lot easier to pick up JSF, Tiles, and Tapestry. So, as a more experienced developer, you are faster on the uptake and the employer does not need to pay extra for training. 2. There is plenty of legacy code in any enterprise system. Legacy could be code dating 2, 5, or 10 years back. Older folks are more likely to maintain that code quickly and efficiently. 3. Managers are crazy with deadlines, and older developers are politically smart about delivering based on such deadlines. 4. Older developers are better at estimating work. A non-technical manager thinks in dollars, not in lines of code, packages, or modules. These managers want someone to rely on. It is a lot more comforting to have someone with 10 years of experience behind his back who knows about estimating techniques than to have a rookie who just knows how to code. All that said, my position is that companies need young developers and must grow them into top notch IT professionals. Otherwise American IT business will lose its edge to China and India. And believe me, there are lots of young hungry developers in those countries. The best IT companies in the US are aware of the situation but instead of cultivating local talent they decided to build their offices in Bangalore and Beijing. Wrong move gentlemen! These countries will eventually muscle you out because they will start their own IT companies that will compete head to head with you - a vivid example is Infosys in India. Of course, the current CEOs will be long gone by then with all the kudos and bonuses based on "excellent" financial performance. Long-term strategy is really the pitch in corporate meetings.

PMPsicle
PMPsicle

Is that the young accept the mistakes (and the marketing borsht that attempts to make it a positive) that us old folks learned so long ago not to make that we no longer even realize that you youngsters would be dumb enough to fall for it. That's why the Enterprisers want the oldsters ... they won't accept the borsht. At least once they realize someone is actually stupid enough to try selling it again. (For you Enterprisers what's Legacy? Yup 1963 IBM promised never to let it happen again ... and to a large extent they've kept their promise! Microsoft ... your entire software base has just been compromised by our latest change. Guess you'll just have to swallow it.) (P.S. There's an old saying that you should never hire a junior programmer with 1 year of experience or a senior programmer with 1 year of experience repeated 5 times. Dumb isn't (necessarily) a youth related illness.)

lovingNJ
lovingNJ

Just hire people who can do the job - young, old, here, there.

Thack
Thack

To be honest, I don't think the age of a person has anything much to do with it. In my experience in a big corporate, it went like this...... Some 60-year-olds are wise, proficient, motivated, innovative and extremely productive. Some are bored and killing time, waiting to retire. Some 25-year-olds are proficient, imaginative, creative and productive. Others are lazy and uninterested. Yet others are focussed only on what it takes to get promoted, and talk a much better job than they deliver. Honestly, I've seen nothing that makes me think we need more, or fewer, younger professionals. We just need more good ones. Also, I think it's worth pointing out that perhaps the premise of the original question is faulty. Corporate IT is rarely at the bleeding edge of innovation anyway - there's too much at stake to risk blazing a trail with radical new software technologies (which the author seems to associate with younger developers). In summary, youth and flair count for a lot, as does experience. Experience doesn't necessarily arrive with age, and neither does flair necessarily disappear with age. But in any case, corporate IT probably needs safe and careful handling, rather than too much flair and innovation.

herlizness
herlizness

think you've got it summed up fairly, squarely and accurately ... parenthetically, is it not enough that we have a constant barrage of black vs white, rich vs poor, Latino vs. Anglo, male vs. female without adding in young vs. old to deal with on a daily basis? kill this idea, Larry, before we have an Old News Network (ONN) and a Young News Nework (YNN) full of blathering idiots to add to all of the other garbage permeating our airwaves and culture.

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

"parenthetically, is it not enough that we have a constant barrage of black vs white, rich vs poor, Latino vs. Anglo, male vs. female without adding in young vs. old to deal with on a daily basis? kill this idea, Larry, before we have an Old News Network (ONN) and a Young News Network (YNN) full of blathering idiots to add to all of the other garbage permeating our airwaves and culture." Fully agreed. We do have too much garbage thrown at us... and too many artificial barriers. (A bunch of it is supported by being forced to be "politically correct" or be called and labeled many an unhealthy name.) I agree that the summary is a good one.

tuomo
tuomo

It really depends on what the "enterprise" software means? Definitely (most) young developers know how to code but not always how to build systems, a huge difference. And it also can be an attitude question, learned or force fed by current "experts" in "licensing" courses, etc. Not all but many young (of course, some old also and maybe most managers - LOL) developers believe that what they were told by vendor, manufacturer, manager, professor, etc is all there is! We see that a lot in OS, language, db, etc wars - sad! They will, hopefully, grow out of it some day. Now - for an ideal enterprise IT development I definitely would hire young and educate them. But I wouldn't kick out the old because sometimes you really, really need the experience which only comes with long career. Seen what happens when the enterprise runs out of own experience and comes depend on outside "expertise" - not a nice picture!

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I must argue it in technology. [i]"The younger generation is what pushes technology in new directions,..."[/i] An example where you might be correct is the two young men who created an industry in their parents' garage... an example where you're wrong is that 40 years later, one of those men has just released an industry-changing device that is setting sales records unheard of when he first began. The company is Apple and the person is Steve Jobs. In other words, it's not whether you're young or old, it's whether you have the vision and the drive to excel. Google is an example of both, as well. As a young man, the creator of Google created probably the best web-crawling search algorithm ever seen; the Company hires young minds to conceive of and create new concepts all the time; yet, they've created as many failures as successes, and fall prey to the same mistakes that hindered progress for companies like Microsoft--Android's uncontrolled splintering currently the most obvious and their 'accidental' Wi-Fi taps currently the most litigious. A company whose motto has been 'Do No Evil' has been caught, intentionally or not, doing evil. Was this the result of young coders overlooking an obvious flaw, or older coders too lazy to check? Either way, they've managed to stop pushing technology and now ride on their laurels. Ability is the only valid point. Whether you're a young gun or an old hand, the one who does the job right is the one you want to watch.

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

"Ability is the only valid point. Whether you're a young gun or an old hand, the one who does the job right is the one you want to watch." Full heartedly agreed!!! IF you wish to bring age into it, favoring the younger over the older, or the older over the younger, THAT is just plain STUPID, and even worse than that... calling it bluntly as it really is: DISCRIMINATORY! I'd rather have an employee who can deliver in what is asked of them, not one that has to be there because of whatever reason (legal, political, or philosophical.) I'd rather have all hiring managers, HR, and any other corporate or private entities that have a say in the hiring process, follow that line, instead of the garbage that does get pulled and covered up in some places.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Experience in what is the real question. I've interviewed and worked with people with nearly as much as longevity as I have now, who are even more clueless than I was when I started... It's atitude and ability and willingness to question assumptions that differentiate in effectiveness, naff all to do with being young, or thirty years doing one thing at least well enough to amass that experience. Your approach is as doomed to failure as the one you are decrying. The main thing my experience gives me, is a lot of examples of where I din't know as anywhere near as much as I thought I did. :p Cultivated naivety is the way to go.