Education key for 40-plus workers as technology divides staff

Employees over the age of 40 were raised to believe that showing loyalty to a company would keep you in a  job until ...
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Employees over the age of 40 were raised to believe that showing loyalty to a company would keep you in a job until retirement, but technology has flipped that expectation on its head.

When computers had no memory, punch girls did the job.

In the 1960s Margaret Douglas started her career in IT punching computer code onto magnetic strips at the Whangarei City Council. 

The computer she used to work with now sits on show at Motat. She can still read binary code. 

Computer administrator Margaret Douglas has kept up to speed with technology for almost 50 years.
DAVID WHITE/STUFF

Computer administrator Margaret Douglas has kept up to speed with technology for almost 50 years.

Decades later, mobile phones, email and Google exist and Douglas still works in the industry she loves.

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But she said it was not easy to stay on top of technology as it evolved in front of her eyes. 

United States Future of Talent Institute chairman Kevin Wheeler visited New Zealand to tell human resources executives ...
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United States Future of Talent Institute chairman Kevin Wheeler visited New Zealand to tell human resources executives they had a duty to make older employees aware of the changes happening to workplaces.

The key was to never stop learning, she said. 

"I have done a fair amount of upskilling on the way and I am still doing education now.

"A lot of it you have to do yourself. You cannot expect your employer to cover it all off, you have got to keep working at it." 

United States Future of Talent Institute chairman Kevin Wheeler raised the alarm to New Zealand corporates about the importance of upskilling and retraining staff as technology and automation would inevitably take over jobs.

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Wheeler told human resources executives here that they needed to encourage staff above 40-years-old to increase their technology capabilities so they could adapt to new types of work. 

He said Millennials were better off because they were raised in the digital era and could foresee and adapt to evolving trends.

Wheeler said the understanding of technology had forced an age divide in workplaces.

"Your dealing with a generational difference here. When you are dealing with people in their 40s, 50s, 60s, this stuff [automation and technology] is devastating."

He said human resources played a significant role in minimising the fear of automation and technology among the older work force.

Notifying staff of changes the future would inevitably bring was not scare mongering, it was necessary to prevent them from becoming useless and unemployed, he said.

Wheeler said human resources departments had a duty to hold the hand of workers over 40 in a rapidly changing and downsizing workforce. 

 - Sunday Star Times

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