Youth vs. Experience


I’ve been on my job for nearly two and a half years.  Its been a tremendously exciting job with full of opportunities.  I’ve met some wonderful people to work with and have learned so much while employed.

This was in April 2008, when I first started.  The workplace around me was high spirited and full of life.  Getting used to new and challenging tasks was a great time as I had so many people help me get my feet wet.  It was one of the best years of my life.

Then 2009 came around, and with it the horrid downward trend of the economy. And before the winter was over, people began rumors of Layoffs around the company. It was all new to me.  I’ve had several jobs in the past, but had never experienced anything such as layoffs and voluntary retirements before It was scary to hear the stories of how the company was doing financially and how the decision makers were checking every avenue to save a penny.  In April, everyone was stressed out and on edge as the first round of layoffs would be announced that month.  You could definitely tell a difference in the way people carried themselves in comparison to just a year ago.

And when the first, and second, and third round of layoffs came throughout the year, people that you spoke with every day were no longer there.  People that you looked to for valuable information were gone. These were not slackers or people that were bad employees.  These were GREAT employees.  These were people that had contributed so much to the company and had a great reputation as being dependable, honest, and hard working employees.  The kind you would like to have work for you.

That was when I noticed a trend. A lot of the people let go were experienced people.  These were people with 15, 20+ years of experienced suddenly let go. The voluntary retirees were the cause of a lot of that. But most of the people let go were all older employees, people nearly twice my age that had acquired tons of knowledge and of course acquired a pretty hefty salary.

The young people that I normally associate with survived, and are stilly working as I write this, some of us behaved as if the rounds of layoffs would never touch us; we were immune to all of this.  But I sometimes wonder if I was on the fortunate end of all of this simply because if my youth and I was a cheap commodity versus to the older employees who earn a larger salary and are pretty much on their way out.  Normally during tough economic times, you would assume it’s the younger people that suffer the most.  But this time it was different.

In this world of layoffs, downsizing, and terminations it seems that age does in fact play a part in who works and who goes home permanently.  You can make a case that as for me the company was out to protect their young core of employees in order to make sure that their future is secure.  But what about the experienced 50+ year old employees that have given so much to the company that throws them away.  It may not be so obvious and blatant, but it is definitely unfair.  I’m afraid this is a trend that will not go away.  As long as the economy moves in waves, up and down, there will be layoffs, terminations, and an unspoken rule to remove those employees that are older and are believed they have no more to contribute to the company.

This time I was fortunate.  But if we are fortunate to progress into our 50’s and beyond,  we may find ourselves on the unfortunate end of things, next time.

-Darold Ingram


~ by daroldingram on August 18, 2010.

One Response to “Youth vs. Experience”

  1. I would definitely agree with you Darold. My father, in his 50’s, was let go after 22 years of employment with the same company. He was devastated and it took him months if not close to a year to find employment again. He found a job but it only paid half of his previous salary. He then jumped to ship for higher pay, but now that company is thinking of outsourcing. It’s so sad to watch those around you work so hard their whole life for it to come down to this.
    I guess we can be considered lucky to be cheap labor, but your right what will happen next time around?

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