[sclug] Linux Apprentice Wanted !

Roland Turner SCLUG raz.fpyht.bet.hx at raz.cx
Mon Nov 6 09:59:13 UTC 2006

On Sun, 2006-11-05 at 22:16 +0000, Jonathan H N Chin wrote:

> aeclist wrote:
> > There is no suggestion of age. Graduation can and does occur at any
> > age. Perhaps you should consider why you see differently? Do you
> > yourself believe that graduation is only for the young? How many
> > people of all ages do you know well?

> You might want to read a book like "how we know what isn't so"
> or "inevitable illusions" and learn why relying on personal

This amounts to ad hominem. Leave it out.

> experience or gut feelings is no substitute for dispassionately
> working through the statistics.
> For example, we can calculate from:
>     http://www.hesa.ac.uk/Press/sfr56/sfr56.htm
> that, between ten and five years ago, about 80% of the students
> studied who were enrolled for a first degree were less than
> 25 years old and about 70% were less than 21 years old, (85%/75%
> if one only considers full-time enrolments) with the figures
> trending slowly towards even higher proportions of younger
> enrolments.
> So, being a "recent graduate" appears to be strongly correlated
> with being under 30 (assuming, for the sake of argument, that

This is correct; so is taking an entry-level position in a skilled

The language in the original post clearly implies that someone who is
working his/her way into a career in this field is what they are looking
for; a recent IT graduation is a very clear indicator of the candidate's
intentions. If the advert _required_ recent graduation, then there would
be a case to answer, but merely acknowledging openly that they are
looking for such markers and stating the most obvious example does not
constitute age discrimination. Look at it from the employer's
perspective: if they have two, say, 45-year-old candidates who are
otherwise equally qualified but one has recently graduated in a relevant
field, it is the graduate who is likely to be taken more seriously if
only because it indicates someone who's made a commitment to a
career-change, rather than simply forwarded his resume on spec. That
this preference would be clear even for middle-aged candidates makes
clear that the stated preference does not amount to ageism, even if
candidates matching the stated preference will tend to be from, or to
exclude, a particular age range.

(And lest anyone's rhetorical desires glom onto the absence of "IT"
before "graduate" in the original advert, no reasonable person is going
to assume that they're after a recent performing arts graduate.)

> Can a person who graduated long ago not be inexperienced and
> yet able to learn? Is a person who graduated long ago not able
> to communicate efficiently or to have an awareness of principles?

Tertiary IT qualifications do tend to have a substantial practical
content which ages very quickly. One approach to putting a number on it
is, for example, is policies within UTS (where I studied, both times)
for course credit calculation during degree transfers; as far as CompSci
was concerned ten years ago, anything that you studied >5 years ago had
already expired. I assume that that limit has not grown. Someone who
graduated 20 years ago will definitely be at a disadvantage, when
seeking a job as a "Linux Apprentice", against someone who graudated 2-3
years ago.

> Yours is a kind interpretation. However, since this "shorthand"
> is clearly open to misinterpretation and considering that
> uncontroversial alternative formulations exist, I see no reason
> to condone its use.

How fortunate it is that your pardon is not a requirement!

You appear to be operating from the "anything not mandatory is
prohibited" standpoint (or, if you prefer, its slightly weaker cousin
"anything avoidable should be avoided") which, with the exception of
political correctness on the part of politicians, has no place in a
liberal democracy.

- Raz

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