Recently SearchSoftwareQuality published a Q&A with Navot Peled, CEO of Gizmox Ltd, entitled How new Web application platforms put dev/test pros’ careers at risk. It’s not often that I disagree with the experts, but as a former developer who’s way past my spring chicken days, I have to say I was a bit insulted at the implication that older developers would not be able to learn new technologies.
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Certainly, emerging technologies can be a challenge to keep up with. I’d just attended a SQuAD meeting last week in which the speaker, Igor Gershovich, espoused the difficulties of automated testing of Rich Internet Applications. However, I absolutely don’t buy into the notion that an older person is at a disadvantage in being able to learn these new technologies. In fact, I would say often it’s just the opposite. Most of us have lived through many shifts in technology and are used to the constant changes that our industry throws at us. We don’t run from it. We thrive on it!
The most brilliant technologist is not well-versed in every technology. There are just too many programming languages, operating systems, databases, tools and systems to become an expert in all of them. It’s important to understand what is happening and what is changing in the world and to update our skills to meet the needs of the industry, but does that mean that if we don’t know AJAX we’re over the hill? Those of us that have been around software for years and years usually are very quick to pick up new skills. I can’t speak for the entire older set, but I can tell you that I absolutely love progress and when some new technology comes out, I want to be the first to jump on the new bandwagon and test it out. One of the great things about my job at SearchSoftwareQuality.com is that I get to be on the forefront of new developments, reading about the latest industry trends.
Not knowing a particular new technology is not what will hurt us in the job market. What will hurt us is if we stop wanting to learn. If we stay stuck in a world where we only know one way of coding and we refuse to be open to the wonderful changes that surround us, we are indeed going to limit our potential. Instead, we need to read, learn, grow and embrace change. If we do that, whether we are 20 or 90, we will be a valuable resource to any employer. There most likely will come a day when we will want to retire, but as long as we keep learning, there will never come a day when we are unemployable.