Skills shortages in IT are getting worse not better because employers are shunning older staff.
A report by the Open University suggests some employers may even be unaware they are discriminating against older staff.
It claims many companies target younger graduates rather than draw on the pool of older, experienced staff in the industry.
Report author Philip Taylor said, “The problem seems to be that firms don’t know older workers exist. They are graduates themselves, so they recruit graduates.”
He said in some companies anyone over 40 is considered too old, with employers worrying that they will demand higher salaries or fail to adapt to a younger environment.
Analysts predict that the shortage of skilled IT and e-commerce workers will grow from 13 per cent of demand next year to 18 per cent by 2003.
Taylor added, “There should be a national advertising campaign to make it clear that IT is not just a profession for young males.”
The report says recruitment agencies have exacerbated the problem by ignoring older staff.