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Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers - United States of America Older Workers Surveys Attitudes About the Employability of Mid-Career and.

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Presentation on theme: "Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers - United States of America Older Workers Surveys Attitudes About the Employability of Mid-Career and."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers - United States of America Older Workers Surveys Attitudes About the Employability of Mid-Career and Older Engineers Survey Research Findings Vin ONeill Senior Legislative Representative IEEE-USA Project Director October 2000 IEEE-USA Older Workers Surveys - 1

3 Issue: Labor Market Difficulties Facing Older Engineers Employers of IT workers complain that jobs go begging and that qualified workers are difficult to recruit and retain. Mid-career and older engineers and computer specialists contend that they are often frozen out of opportunities for better jobs, training or advancement. With the aging of the Baby-Boom Generation, things are likely to get a whole lot worse – or are they? IEEE-USA Older Workers Surveys - 2

4 Purposes of the Research To assess supervisory and employee perceptions about the strengths and weaknesses of older engineers in a rapidly changing, technology-driven, global economy. To gather information about the incidence of age discrimination in IT workplaces. To compare perceptions about the continuing employability of older engineers and older workers generally. IEEE-USA Older Workers Surveys - 3

5 Survey Research Design Survey Research Firm - Mathew Greenwald & Associates Advisory Committee - External and Internal Advisors AARP Policy Researcher, Industrial Engineer and Social-Psychologist IC Design Engineer, Engineering Manager (Manufacturing) and Human Resources Director IEEE-USA Older Workers Surveys - 4

6 Research Methods - Telephone Surveys (Spring 2000) IEEE Members 108 engineers under age engineers age 45 and above 139 engineering supervisors (EMS members) 86 HR personnel (non-IEEE) Interviews averaged 15 minutes in duration IEEE-USA Older Workers Surveys - 5

7 Research Focus - Eight High Tech Industry Sectors - Aerospace and aeronautics - Telecommunications equipment - Biomedical technology - Telecommunications services - Computer components - Electronics manufacturing - Computer software - Semiconductors IEEE-USA Older Workers Surveys - 6

8 Profile of Respondents - Demographic and Workplace Characteristics CharacteristicSupervisorsHR Personnel (Biggest Cohorts) Age35 to 44 (40%)35 to 44 (27%) SexMale (95%)Female (59%) Years with company10 to 20 (27%)2 to 5 (30%) Years in businessOver 20 (65%)Over 20 (63%) Industry sectorTelecom (25%)Telecom (30%) Number of full time employees>1,000 (66%)100 to 499 (57%) EEs in department or company1 to 9 (38%)> 100 (26%) IEEE-USA Older Workers Surveys - 7

9 Profile of Respondents - Demographic and Workplace Characteristics CharacteristicEngineers ( 45) (Biggest Cohorts) Age35 to 44 (65%) 45 to 54 (53%) SexMale (95%) Male (98%) EducationMasters (38%) Masters (40%) Years in profession10 to19yrs(62%) 20 to 29yrs (41%) Industry sectorComputer (34%) Computer (30%) EEs in department or company1 to 9 (24%) 1 to 9 (31%) IEEE-USA Older Workers Surveys - 8

10 Profile of Respondents - Role in Hiring New Engineers Hiring RoleSupervisors HR Personnel Select candidates with little or no 29% 5% guidance from supervisors or HR personnel Select candidates after seeking guidance 39%14% from supervisors or HR personnel Select candidates jointly with supervisors 26% 49% or HR personnel Provide input, but leave final selection up 3%23% to supervisors or HR personnel IEEE-USA Older Workers Surveys - 9

11 Supervisory and Human Resources Assessments Skills, ranked in order of importance by Supervisors HR Personnel Problem solving 1* 2 Teamwork2 3 Communications 3 5 Adaptability to new assignments4 4 Technical knowledge5 1* Decision-making6 6 IEEE-USA Older Workers Surveys - 10

12 Supervisory and Human Resources Assessments Attributes ranked in order of importance by Supervisors HR Personnel Keeping up with latest developments in their field 1 1 Directly-related professional experience 2 2 Reasonable salary requirements 3 3 Ability to travel for business when necessary 4 6 Willingness to work long hours 5 5 Commit to a long-term future with company 6 4 Willingness to relocate 7 7 IEEE-USA Older Workers Surveys - 11

13 Supervisory and Human Resources Assessments Comparative ratings on important skills Engineers ( 45) Problem solving X Teamwork X Communications X Adaptability to new assignments X Technical knowledge X Decision-making X IEEE-USA Older Workers Surveys - 12

14 Supervisory and Human Resources Assessments Comparative ratings on important attributes Engineers ( 45) Keeping up with latest developments X Directly related professional experience X Reasonable salary requirements X Ability to travel for business when necessary S S Willingness to work long hours S S Long-term commitment to company X Willingness to relocate if necessary X IEEE-USA Older Workers Surveys - 13

15 Supervisory and Human Resources Assessments Composite Evaluation: Older Engineers are Better? Older engineers rated higher on 4 essential skills Younger engineers scored higher on 2 essential skills Older engineers rated higher on 3 important attributes Younger engineers scored higher on 2 important attributes Both groups rated similarly on 2 other attributes IEEE-USA Older Workers Surveys - 14

16 Supervisory and Human Resources Assessments Age at which attributes and skills differ SupervisorsHR Personnel By age 30 18% 20% By age 35 51% 32% By age 39 60% 38% By age 40 79% 55% By age 45 or older 94% 76% IEEE-USA Older Workers Surveys - 15

17 Engineering Self-Assessments Comparative ratings on important skills Engineers ( 45) Problem solving average + average + Adaptability to new assignments average ++ average + Teamwork average ++ average + Technical knowledge average - average - Decision-making average - average - Communications average - average - IEEE-USA Older Workers Surveys - 16

18 Engineering Self-Assessments Respondents with negative work experiences Engineers ( 45) Passed over for a raise 12% 18% Not hired for a new job 20% 17% Laid-off or downsized 8% 16% Passed over for a promotion 17% 15% Denied a desirable work assignment 19% 14% Asked to give up some responsibilities 11% 13% Denied request for technical training 27% 10% Offered early retirement 1% 6% IEEE-USA Older Workers Surveys - 17

19 Engineering Self-Assessments Age as a reason for negative work experiences Nearly 10 percent of the engineers who reported negative experiences, attributed them to age or age discrimination. Half of those who mentioned age (5%) have had 4 or more negative experiences. Fully 90% of those who did not mention age have had no negative experiences. Both groups were equally likely to have reported positive experiences. IEEE-USA Older Workers Surveys - 18

20 Summary and Conclusions Findings lend mixed support to the idea that older electrical and electronics engineers face barriers to continuing employability. Supervisors see problem-solving, communications and teamwork skills as very important and rate older engineers as stronger on the first two. HR personnel think technical knowledge, problem-solving and teamwork are particularly important. They rate older engineers as stronger problem-solvers and the same as younger engineers on technical knowledge and teamwork. In two areas that supervisors and HR personnel consider above average in importance (adaptability and ability to keep up with new developments), they rate older engineers as weaker than younger engineers. Many supervisors and HR personnel agree that there is an age at which skills possessed by older engineers differ from those possessed by younger engineers and most believe this occurs before age 45. IEEE-USA Older Workers Surveys - 19

21 Summary and Conclusions Evidence of age discrimination in the high-tech sector is also mixed. Only 10 percent of the older engineers surveyed attributed negative work experiences in the past 5 years to age or age discrimination - a smaller percentage than had been expected based on the results of earlier surveys. Tightness in many engineering labor markets may be an ameliorating factor. Additional audit studies may be needed to determine the incidence and nature of discriminatory treatment that can be attributed to age. IEEE-USA Older Workers Surveys - 20

22 Selected Studies and Reports American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Committee for Economic Development (CED) Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers - United States of America National Research Council/National Science Foundation (NRC/NSF) academies.org/http://www.nsf.gov IEEE-USA Older Workers Surveys - 21

23 AARP Reports Older Workers: How Do They Measure Up? (1994) Valuing Older Workers: A Study of Costs and Productivity (1995) Employment Discrimination Against Older Workers: An Experimental Study of Hiring Practices (1996) Age Discrimination in Employment: The Workers View (1998) American Business and Older Employees (2000) IEEE-USA Older Workers Surveys - 22

24 Other Important Studies CED, New Opportunities for Older Workers (New York: Committee for Economic Development, 1999). IEEE-USA, Salary and Fringe Benefit Survey; Edition (Piscataway, NJ: Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers, 1999). NRC, Building a Workforce for the Information Economy (Washington: National Research Council, 2000). IEEE-USA Older Workers Surveys - 23


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