Welcome to the Older Coder.
The purpose of this blog is to inform, inspire, and hopefully demonstrate a path for ‘experienced’ members of the work force to create a better life for themselves through coding.
For those of us who find themselves unemployed or underemployed at age 50, 55, or 60+ its a shock. If, like me, you planned to work in your field until you retired around 65, being unemployed for more than a few months makes that seem… unlikely. Upon finding yourself no longer employed maybe you sent out a ton of applications, networked with some former colleagues, did all the things you know are needed to find a new position, then waited for the offers to come in. And maybe, 12 months later like me, you’re still waiting.
There’s many reasons why an experienced person might find themselves jobless. Senior employees are often the first to go for a variety of reasons:
For me it was voluntary. I was working contract to contract but during an extremely slow period in my field of animation (2008, the Great Recession) I tried Real Estate. After six years of moderate success but little enjoyment I finally decided to quit talking houses and get back to talking art and design. That was over a year ago. I’ve done what all the books and advice say to do. Brush up on my skills, network with past colleagues, apply apply apply. So far the response has been… weak.
I’m not positive its ageism but I am beginning to see a pattern of older workers losing their positions and either being unemployed or, if they do find work, underemployed. Meaning that they are working but not in their field and usually in a position that requires little training. A statistic which gets overlooked when considering the country’s unemployment rate.
The reason for the layoffs or terminations are usually for legitimate reasons but once you’re gone getting back can be a problem. I looked around and saw that while the number of openings in the animation industry were growing so were the number of new graduates. There just wasn’t enough demand to make me a valuable commodity. So I googled ‘best job for an older person’.
And coding popped up.
Across Canada and the USA, statistics suggest there are more jobs require coding than candidates, and the shortfall is going to increase. Its also been suggested that coding is the new blue collar job that America has been hoping for. I’m not sure about that but from what I’ve read and heard from others it is one of the few jobs that doesn’t require a diploma and there’s lots of free resources available to teach yourself, and that tells me there’s a demand.
Not to paint an overly rosy picture, here in Canada it would seem that tech might not be the best place to find a new position post 55. A report from 2016 by the Brookfield Institute “The State of Canada’s Tech Sector, 2016” shows that, the proportion of Canadians, older than 55, and employed in the tech industry was 5.2 percentage points lower than the average. Is that statistically significant? I don’t know but what I do know is that at the age of 55+ most workers aren’t prepared or capable of competing with younger workers in jobs that require physical strength and/or agility and most jobs can’t be self taught from information acquired on the internet. So while statistics may be slanted against me I really don’t see any alternatives, and besides, I like design and I like coding.
I think experienced workers with the right attitude have a lot to contribute to any company. With our experience we can be a stabilizing influence on a team or department. We bring with us experiences and memories of ideas that did and didn’t work in the past. And, we tend to know more about other industries outside of the tech sector. Which do you think is the better business plan. Hire a team of programmers with no practical experience in manufacturing to work on an application for the manufacturing sector? Or to hire a few of those programmers with first hand manufacturing experience? If I was putting together a team I’d give relevant experience in the industry we’re working for more than just a cursory nod.
Follow along as I learn coding and hopefully find success.
What I hope to achieve is not just to find employment, but to demonstrate to others in my situation that there is a market out there for coders regardless of age, and, to try to convince younger employers of the benefits of having experienced workers on their team. And finally, if statistics are to be believed, to embark on a career that will be in demand well into the future.
In this blog I’ll discuss what I’m doing to learn to code, my job hunting efforts, alternative employment situations (freelancing) and all things computer and code related. Its geared for older coders but all are welcome. If you find any of the information useful then the site is a success.
So come along, opinions are always welcome. New ideas are definitely welcome. Lets take an age old lesson and use it to find a new way in this world, lets ADAPT!