Life experience and knowledge beat digital competence

Older job seekers are regularly and systematically discriminated against in the labor market . There is no other way to read the result of the survey by the job platform Indeed. According to this, more than a quarter of the HR managers surveyed stated that they generally consider people over 60 to be too old for their company. The age-related rejection is hardly lower among people who are older than 55 years.

Economically, Germany cannot afford this arrogance of rejecting older workers, of downright discriminating against them at work or when looking for a new job. The shortage of skilled workers is still a real problem. At the beginning of August, there were more vacancies in German companies than ever before . Already, almost 40 percent of the population is older than 55 years, and the aging of society could only be stopped by massive immigration, which is unlikely to be politically desirable.

In general, which skills should the older people lack so much that they could no longer be placed with German companies? In digital competence? Sure, it is important and will become even more important in the years to come. Simply assuming that older workers have uncatchable deficits in dealing with electronic media is not only unfair, but also ignores reality. After all, computers, the Internet and even social networks have been around for so long that they also play a central role in the lives of the boomer generation.

Not every small and medium-sized company also has its own digital strategy or would be dependent on a strong digital competence of all its employees. Larger companies already have specialized teams or the capacity to offer training if you want to digitize processes – employees of all ages should at least have the necessary basic knowledge. The same applies here: companies that exploit the potential in their team and in the search for new employees have a significant competitive advantage. Or vice versa: if you ignore these opportunities, you harm yourself enormously.

Experience is overestimated for younger workers, and underestimated for older workers

However, much more important than remedying possible deficits is what workers over fifty have over their younger colleagues. Because there is no substitute for decades of experience and knowledge that you have accumulated during this time. How can it be that young people rightly moan about unrealistic demands on their experience and previous knowledge when applying for jobs, when older people have both, but these qualities are suddenly no longer worth anything?

Sure, everyone knows a colleague who has been looking forward to approaching retirement for a long time, does not contribute more or even less than necessary to the team performance, sometimes spreads a bad mood and resists change with a pronounced attitude of the kind “We’ve always done it this way”. . But then it is the task of good personnel management to pick up this person and form a team from the workforce in which the older ones can contribute their experience and knowledge without the younger ones having to hold back with criticism of existing processes. Besides, there aren’t that many notorious whiners. Another case is much more common: those who have had their job for several decades, rather than just a few years, usually simply enjoy working in it and approach their daily workload more relaxed and efficiently – a point of view that should definitely be passed on to the next generation .

Taking skilled workers of all ages into account could at least alleviate the shortage of staff in this country somewhat. That is why companies should appreciate older jobseekers for what they can achieve and prevent deficits from developing in the first place through early and continuous further training.

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