Two people apply for one job. The first man has the right qualifications and the right experience. The second man does not posses all the required qualifications and has only half the experience of the first man and yet he is offered the job.
He is obviously eighteen years younger of course. Like the good old saying, age is nothing but a number, no matter what your age is, ageism is a realistic prejudice that will, in one way or the other, affect almost all of us at some stage or the other during our career lifetimes for the best or for the worst.
In this very day and age, we have sexism, where people are given more opportunities based on their gender, or racism where one could be denied their rights because of the colour of their skin, regardless of their mental and physical capabilities.
My intention is to actually prove that ageism does exist virtually in our country. Even at my tender age, I have already noticed job advertisements requiring only people who are aged between 18 and 24 in order to be eligible to apply.
Though such jobs are demanding and, to some extent, quite secure, they are much aspired/envied or adored by many and as a shortlist, they include all the respected armed forces in general such as the police and the army just to mention a few.
However, ageism is to some extent illegal in developed countries such as America, Britain and Australia, so why and how come it is perfectly acceptable in Botswana? Is there some form of stigma and discrimination amongst our employers?
Do people somehow feel threatened by employing someone with more experience than themselves? If anything, it surely must have something to do with the company’s image or much anticipated corporate identity. Perhaps some employers believe that once you reach a certain age, then you are unable to do the job.
A clear example could be the more than 12 000 registered security companies that are reluctant to recruit old men simply because of the fact that they fear that they may dose off and snooze away during the wee hours of the night, whilst on duty and completely forget about the job.
Another example could be transport companies which tend to hire drivers who are usually chosen between the ages of 29 and 40 years, wholly based on their driving experience, but what about a 25-year-old who has all the credentials and licenses, which are needed for the job?
Undoubtedly, there is no solid medical or scientific proof which insists that age, actually as a matter of fact affects any body’s mental and or in some instances, physical abilities.
For this reason employers must definitely not question anybody’s capabilities regarding skill and overall working experience. In fact, there is more proof and evidence to the contrary, regarding this highly sensitive issue.
Having spoken to Madeline (43), an unemployed secretary who is job hunting, she says she lost her former job last year because her former employer had told her that she could not be kept in his office any longer because the company was not making enough money, due to the recession, only to come back one day to ask for a reference letter and realize that she had been replaced by a Form 5 leaver who was obviously younger and prettier than her.
I have also spoken to Baboloki (26), a fully experienced, qualified and licensed driver who cannot find a job because of his age, saying that every employer he had approached insists on recruiting older men due to the fact that younger drivers are much more careless due to their inevitable, unsober habits.
I hope this discussion will possibly make the issue of ageism illegal as a way forward in this country. As much as a relevant review is needed, there is a lot of expertise, let alone experience, which is going down the drain, inevitably making more people become more vulnerable, hapless victims of alcohol and disease, reason being due to the narrow minds of employers within our country.