The trades, including field service, manufacturing and clean energy are bright spots in the recovering U.S. job market. That optimism, however, often does not extend to older job seekers.
That’s been the experience of Robert Mitchell at Renewable Energy World, who recounts his frustrations as an older job seeker trying to find employment in trades dominated by an influx of younger clean energy hopefuls. Citing government numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mitchell points out how older job seekers are “disproportionately represented in the ‘long term unemployed'” category, meaning they’ve been unemployed for at least six months.
Says Mitchell: “I’ve noticed what I believe to be a bias against older workers in the renewable energy industry. Not only have I gotten a thin response from my personal job search activities, I’ve also noticed that people over 30 years old aren’t very well represented on renewable energy company websites and advertising. … Personally, I would think that companies would value the experience that an older worker brings to the workplace. But apparently not; older workers are undeniably having a harder time finding work.”
According to the Bureau’s statistics, the trades are recovering jobs at a steady clip: Last month, manufacturing and construction employment rose by 33,000 jobs in each category, while the service sector added 47,000 jobs. There’s employment to be had in the trades, as we’ve covered before, but, more often than not, these jobs are going to younger job seekers. The 45-54 age bracket experienced among the highest rates of unemployment, according to BLS findings.
Mitchell, who points to rising insurance costs as the main culprit of ageism in the trades, argues work and professional experience should trump employers’ concerns when considering older job seekers for positions in service industries dominated by a younger workforce. Younger, tech-savvy employees no doubt bring a lot to the table for the trades — and their prospects are sure to rise to combat aging workforces across most industries.