Pounding Europe's Pavements Is No Picnic

Having left employment in the U.S. in October, 1998, to live in Gloucestershire, I find "The missing worker" (European Business, Dec. 27) very informative. I had thought that, with my education and employment background, I could find a good job here easily. There is one major problem in Britain: age discrimination, especially for those over 50 (I turned 53 this past October). Unlike the U.S., Britain has not outlawed age discrimination.

Yes, info-tech workers are needed, and that is my field, but many companies are blind: They want to employ young people--those just out of school, who command lower wages. There seems to be no consideration for experience and knowledge gained over many years of work. One is told by employment agencies that one's age makes it hard to be placed; ads actually state age groups wanted.

John B. Rohrbeck

Stroud, Gloucestershire


In Germany, problems often stem not from workers' lack of skills or their unwillingness to change, but are caused by well-established keepers of secure posts. These professionals lack any incentive for change. They like the status quo and abhor risks or experiments. For them, educated, experienced personalities signify unwanted competition.

The flexible Mr. Freund in your article is not the exception. Well-educated job seekers in their 40s with successful high-level international management experience, proficiency in several languages, the flexibility to work around the globe, and certified info-tech knowledge send out hundreds of applications, only to receive negative responses.

As long as many people in Germany fail to find work because they are "overqualified" (or lack a positive attitude--whatever that means), one should not complain about an uneducated and inflexible workforce.

Winrich Neumann

Waldshut-Tiengen, Germany

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