Monday, July 24, 2006

And while they're at it here is another thing they can fix 

The Chavez administration has been famously involved trying to redress historical patterns of discrimination in Venezuela against Afro-Venezuelans, indians, women and other groups. But of course, there are a great many other types of discrimination that should be fought against.

One of them was brought up in todays edition of Ultimas Noticias. According to a study done by a human resources firm in Caracas fewer than 3% of all jobs openings are for people over the age of 40. Clearly even without exact statistics on the percentage of workers over the age of 40 this is a very low number and in no way is reflective of the number of people that age who may need to find jobs. So if you are in Caracas, 45 years old, and need a job you have a big problem. The study also found that this age discrimination worked against all people, no matter their skill level.

Quite frankly one doesn't need sophisticated studies to realize this is a problem, just looking at the job advertisements in the newspaper will suffice. One virtue to Venezuela's economic boom is that the papers are now full of job ads. But they are often very restrictive in who they are advertising to, particularly with respect to age. Some examples from the paper:

This ad for an office worker only wants people between 20 and 40.

This ad is even more restrictive, they only want people between 20 and 30.

Only people between 25 and 35 need apply for this job.

This U.S. chain only wants managers between the ages of 20 and 28. People over 28 can't manage a restaurant?

This famous American franchise is a little more reasonable - they will take managers up to 33. Still pretty pathetic.

This is the worst of the lot. This employer wants engineers, but not if you are over the age of 35. And who is the employer? None other than the governments very own health ministry! It's bad enough that any employers practice this kind of discrimination but it is particulary unacceptable for the government itself to do it.

The sad part is these ads weren't hard to find. Go through the classifieds and at least 50% of the ads seem to have these age restrictions listed. Other ads do things like specifying that they only want good looking people, and generally insist that you send a picture with your resume to prove you do indeed "look good" [as a side note to this I know a women who tried to get a teller job at Banco Latino in the early 90's who was flat out told by the branch manager they didn't hire "negras" in jobs that interacted with the public]

Clearly Venezuela either has no laws against age discrimination or makes no effort to enforce them. Either way, this is a simply unacceptable situation. I am sure Chavez, the National Assembly, and the rest of the government all have a lot on their plate. But I think they can find a little bit of time to work on remedying these problems. They need to.


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