Make senior engineers good entrepreneurs

"Engineers over 50 are difficult to place"

Companies are hardly interested in engineers over 50. The companies do not believe in their commitment and they have no instruments for integrating older employees. The independence of the old hands is a horror to superiors. At least that's what Reinhard Scharff regularly observes. He is the managing director of Personal Total in Stuttgart.

VDI news: Is it more difficult for you to place engineers with professional experience?

Sharp: It's not a problem for people between their mid-30s and late 40s. It only becomes difficult when you are over 50.

Engineers without special status

The headquarters of the Federal Employment Agency in Nuremberg informed the VDI nachrichten: In August 2014, 2.9 million people in Germany were registered as unemployed. Of these, 28,706 had completed an engineering degree. 51.2% of these engineers registered as unemployed were over 40. Among all unemployed, the rate for over 40-year-olds is 54.8%

In principle, the risk of older employees to become unemployed has decreased. However, the older unemployed would find it difficult to find a new job. And that obviously applies across all professional groups - engineers do not have a special status.

Why? Even with graduates, companies value professional experience.

Sometimes the salary is a hindrance because of course someone over 40 or 50, due to our economic and union structure, earns much more than a 30 year old. Although over-50 candidates are usually ready to talk about their salary, they usually do not get to this point in the application process: The companies do not trust them to be committed and want to perform. Many companies do not seem interested in experience and technical knowledge.

They also have no instruments for integrating older engineers into the company, let alone an institutionalized organizational department that brings old and young together and transfers knowledge to where the future is: to the young engineers.

They often have to make the same mistakes in order to become as good as old hands. And many young bosses are pure fear of the experience and knowledge of the old. So they prefer to hire engineers who cannot be dangerous to them. These are the boys.

And how about in engineering disciplines, in which, according to different organizations, there should be a shortage, such as electrical engineering: Is it easier for older engineers to find work?

No, from a certain age there is no difference between mechanical and electrical engineers: those who have passed the age of 50 have a hard time finding a new job.

To come back to your previous answer: Let the knowledge of the elderly pass to the young in mixed-age groups. Do they not exist or do the teams not work?

Mixed age groups are an issue in companies in the Sunday speeches of board members, managing directors and HR managers, but not in the hiring process. Organizationally, many companies are simply not set up in such a way that such a model can work.

This is also due to the fact that HR departments in companies are still primarily seen as procurement departments or like to see themselves that way: Success in HR is very often only measured by how many people they have hired during the year. That alone counts and not the partnership model between HR and specialist departments, which is also propagated but also not practiced.

What are the advantages of older engineers?

Loyalty to the company, and the old people have already made their mistakes and are no longer making them. They know all the tricks and tricks and can often reach their goal faster than younger people. They also usually have the better approach when it comes to handling and serviceability of their products, for example.

And where do the old hands have deficits?

Some are actually saturated, indolent, affluent citizens and are therefore no longer as easily manageable and influenced as someone who has just built a house or has small children and a woman who does not work. These addicts are preferred by all department heads, directors and managers. Who run and create without grumbling. The old people no longer need that. They are more independent, which is a horror for companies.