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The Planned Obsolescence of Old Coders - What Happened?

Coding industry is increasingly developing every single day. Therefore, position of old coders has generally changed. What will old coders become in the future? Is the planned obsolescence of old coders true story or anything else? The answer is in this article.

The Old Coders' Planned Obsolescence - it’s sad but true

PyGotham conference in New York is held each year with 600 coders gather to discuss many issues in coding industry. The organizers always try to make a special effort to get a diverse speakers. Additionally, they promote the event with attendance of women coders and people of color coders. Moreover, they run workshops for women tech talents to encourage them to submit talks for conference. To follow the progress of the conference’s diversity, they ask speakers to fill out a demographic survey.

However, there is one group in particular: older coders. No organizer pays attention to them. As a result, this group is in situation called 'the planned obsolescence of old coders'. Programmers in their forties and beyond are rarer than the representation of women coders and people of colors coders. Accordingly, old coders have are no meetups or particular conferences in New York. They do not have prominent advocacy organizations as well. If you want to seek older coders to speak, you can not know where to look.

Meanwhile, the software industry is really overwhelmingly young. Job opportunities are likely to focus on young programmers. Here are some examples for this status:

  • The median age of Google and Amazon staffs is 30,

  • The median age of American employees is 42.

  • Three-quarters of 100,000 programmers found around the world is under 35.

So, what career paths for old coders? Some people have gone back to school to change their major (or job) or have become tech managers. However, many coders seem to have no choice for their future. This is truth.

The Planned Obsolescence of Old Coders - face to challenges

Coders must keep their skills up to date in all their lifetime. However, nowadays they are in a race against time in a constantly transforming industry. A research paper indicates that skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) jobs changes faster than in other industries. Moreover, the rate of change for engineers is especially rapid.

Typically, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics require more skills than other fields. After programmers learn a skill, another becomes obsolete. They just have a little chance for accumulating skills and increasing salary.

Starting salaries in tech industry are quite high. However, their advantage compared to others is halved in the first decade of employment. In fact, salary offers are actually lower for tech staffs over fifty than for younger ones. That's why a lot of employees switch to jobs that change more slowly to find sustained salary growth. At the age of 24, 89 percent of these majors have many jobs. However, at 35 years old, the number decreases 71 percent and continues to fall thereafter.

Some coders can stay in the tech industry by becoming IT managers. A 54-year-old engineer in Massachusetts tells me, Some companies have an clear process for new employees. Accordingly, they work as developers and then move up the chain into management positions.

The Planned Obsolescence of Old Coders - look for solutions

To solve the situation ‘The planned obsolescence of old coders”, a lot of companies have come out their solutions. We can refer to them for more information.

Set up individual contributor (IC) effectively and clearly

Google, Microsoft and other large businesses have established a system called 'individual contributor (IC) track'. It is a ladder of job titles for senior developers. This ladder will rise in parallel to the management ladder. The advantage of this IC track is to enable engineers to climb a seniority ladder while not forsaking the craft they'd like. However, the IC track is not optimal. Specifically, promotion will be slower on the IC track and the distinctions between titles are not clear.

Therefore, businesses need to make a qualitatively different role for their most senior individual contributors. Additionally, companies can judge candidates of these roles in accordance with their past effectiveness. Their evaluation is the same as managers, not by a quick checklist of skills.

If we have greater clarity, coders can climb the ladder more quickly. Furthermore, the prestige and renewed intellectual challenge of each level help to keep engineers moving forward next years. Excellent programmers who occupy the most senior roles should be chosen to deal with the serious problems on the most important projects. Companies should emphasize their leadership roles by evaluating writing, speaking, and mentoring skills.

Top IT Job for Developer

Make use of old coders’s deep knowledge

With deep knowledge and broad experience, older coders can translate their knowledge into ordinary terms. They play role of an ambassadors to the non-programming world.

For instance, Ari Blenkhorn filled this role at the time that he led a cloth simulation project at the special effects. She supports to develop softwares of Harry Potter’s Quidditch cloak and the Dementors’ robes. It's necessary for her to speak the language of the physics simulation research team and the animation team. Both teams do not think about partial differential equations. Instead, they think about silky and stretchy and ripples cloth.

Enhance roles of old coders and unions

Businesses try to define meaningful levels for coders advancing on the IC track. Meanwhile, coders have to be more proactive. They can organize and pressure businesses to combat age bias. In addition, unions need to standardize salaries and protect senior staffs from layoffs. These things will likely narrow racial and gender wage gaps.

The best way is for older coders to stay in the company long enough to pass their knowledge to successors. We should make the IT industry more outgoing to coders past their thirties and create roles suited for very experienced developers. These will help companies to operate more effectively and more fairly.


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