Youths are cheaper

You recently ran two letters which were closely linked – ‘We need a debate about ageism in the industry’ and ‘Postscript on student jobs’ (DW 15 June).

A major reason why someone with 20-plus years of experience on big accounts, and clearly an expert in their field, is being turned down for job after job is the fact that there is a massive pool of design students fresh out of college.

The competition is huge just to get a foot in the door, complete a year or two in industry and bolster a portfolio. This means that many junior positions are filled by people who may not have the experience, but who do have the qualifications.

By the time a couple of years have passed, these people are then classed as ‘middleweights’ and it’s time for them to move onwards and upwards. Fair play. That’s how it works.

Any employer who turns down applicants from older, more experienced people is a fool. They are probably looking for a younger, less experienced person who would just about keep afloat in the job, but who would not be able to command the higher wage of an applicant with years of experience.

This doesn’t stop the situation being very frustrating. My better half is on the wrong side of 35 and has worked in design, print and publishing since he was 17. He’s amazing at his job and and would be an asset to any company.

The last time he needed a new job it took almost two years before he found the right one. Many times he would attend an interview and know more about the industry than the younger person interviewing him.

As for me, I’ve been a designer for almost 10 years. Now that I’m also a mum, I’m thinking of, perhaps, giving it up altogether. Long periods away from this industry don’t work in your favour, further down the line.

Perhaps I’ll use my head and go into teaching. Arrrggghhhhh!!!!!!

Helen Brierley, by e-mail

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