Byline: DANNY BRADBURY
CHRIS Unsworth didn't expect to be consigned to the scrapheap at the age of 56. After working in the technology industry for 20 years, most of them in technology marketing, he thought that he'd be well positioned to find a high-profile job following his departure from Genuity, a telecommunications company that was bought out in February.
"It's been difficult to get a job," says Unsworth, who explains that he's applied for around 200 jobs since he became unemployed, 80 per cent of which have been in technology marketing.
"You feel as though you've achieved something if you get an interview," he says, explaining that he has had just nine return calls since he started applying.
While all of them have led to a second interview, they have all ended in refusal.
It's a hard pill to swallow for someone who has held down jobs as European VP of marketing communications at Nortel and European marketing director at networking firms Fore and 3Com.
In desperation, Unsworth went to a career fair that promised to help him give his career a kick-start.
"The guy there told me that my age was going to be a problem," he said, adding that recruitment consultants had asked him to leave his age off his CV in a bid to help him get interviews.
One might argue that with the industry still emerging from a flat period, Unsworth is just experiencing the same problems as everyone else, but given his credentials and the number of relevant jobs that he's applied for, his lack of success is surprising.
The consultancies' concern over his age is telling.
Jon Butterfield, a director at recruitmentconsultancy group Spring, remains unimpressed. He dismisses suggestions that ageism is rife in the IT sector, arguing that very few companies have a problem employing older people.
"It's not a big problem," he says.
"Most companies have an equalopportunities policy and by default those policies aren't specific in terms of age and race."
The problem is that equal-opportunities policies notwithstanding, discrimination on the basis of age isn't illegal, unlike sexual or racial discrimination, which is why Unsworth has had to flick past countless jobs advertising for people in their thirties.
And other industry evidence bears out the notion that IT is seen as a young person's industry.
Recruitment firm Parity analysed the IT contractors on its books, and found that 62 per cent of them were under 40, and 92 per cent of them were under 50. The only sort of protection that exists for the older minority is a code of conduct on age discrimination, which is voluntary and, therefore, largely ineffectual.
The same isn't true in Ireland, which has seen a number of discrimination cases since introducing anti-ageism legislation. …