TECHNOLOGY AS AN ERASER
The term "ageism" refers to prejudices, attitudes, and discrimination that are based on a person's age. It may be self-directed, it may be institutionally directed, or it may be interpersonally directed. There is discrimination against older workers just as there is against younger workers in the workplace. However, ageism is particularly prevalent in the hospitality and high-tech industries. Ageism makes it hard for people to reach their full potential, which in turn leads to unstable finances and poverty. However, older workers (age group 50 years or above) are frequently impacted more severely by uncertain periods than younger workers (age range 18 to 40 years old), which can contribute to an increase in the number of people claiming social security and living in poverty. Older workers who are unable to find new employment may have their careers cut short as a result. Countries with inadequate social security, such as India, confront a greater number of issues than the majority of western nations do. Indian research with primarily unskilled workers studied the impact of the lockdown that COVID-19 imposed and found that 86 percent of workers quit working as soon as the lockdown was released. Workers in their later years saw greater income losses than their younger counterparts. They hypothesized that older workers were withdrawn from the workforce at an earlier point in the pandemic's progression.
In virtually every nation that was coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, it was strongly recommended to the elderly labour force that they remain inside their homes, self-isolate, and keep their distance from other people who may be affected. Although these restrictions are reasonable in light of the current crisis, there is a possibility that they will have severe repercussions for the mental health of elderly people. This is because survivor's guilt, social isolation, and loneliness all contribute to a decline in mental health. In addition, the fact that they are unable to meet their financial obligations and have a higher degree of dependency may contribute to their anxiety and stress and may have been the cause of their psychotic, obsessive, and somatic symptoms. You may ask how those of a younger generation responded to the obstacles; how did they do it? Well! The baby boomer generation was never taught how to restrict oneself with limited interactions, adapt to technological improvements with limited support, spend their weekends in their own rooms with individualised OTT subscriptions, and binge watch television shows and movies.
"Yes, we are both fine, though we have not been able to visit our children and grandchildren for a long time. We received the second of the two Pfizer shots about three weeks ago. Preparing for the online version of the graduate course I am co-teaching has taken quite a bit of time, "replied my research supervisor, Dr. Robert A. Bjork, Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, when I asked him about his family and his whereabouts amid the pandemic. From designing an appropriate experiment, to refining the goals, and interpreting the results, my interactions with Professor Bjork since 2018 via email, despite sitting 7700 miles away from him, had me understand his ability to adequately manage the remote projects. Dr. Bjork must have always made a concerted effort to expand his expertise and acquaintance with emerging technologies, new developments, and innovative practises. Thus, despite COVID-19, as we dealt with uncertainty, our connection kept getting stronger.
As a result, we are able to suggest that the key to higher adaptability during COVID-19 was to embrace all forms of contemporary technology and use all of the technical tools while remaining inside one's comfort zone. But the question arises, are the Indian elderly equally motivated to be trained and adapt to the situational changes? "I would not say motivated, but out of compulsion. It's like I told you, they were feeling the heat. Like they might be thrown out or they might be replaced. Not thrown out. Even if they are replaced in their current position, they have the mentality that they have to learn an entirely new thing. It was just in digital training that they knew this fact that they had to just transform a little bit to do it online. They were, earlier, also using computers and everything. A few things changed. You know, like a software comes and you have to do a certain step to get into the software and all that. So, from their perspective, it was much simpler to learn than to learn an entire new job. If they switched to a new department or to a new segment, they were cooperative. "replied, a 30-year-old export manager at one of the major steel production companies in India, while I was interviewing him for my research stud. The research study had comparable variables but distinct objectives.
Employers and managers should make an effort to train older people with digital advances by satisfying the job needs of older workers as well as their training and development requirements. There is a need for action to be taken against the threat posed by stereotypes, which discourage the engagement and motivation of older workers and, as a consequence, have an effect on their mental health. It is essential, additionally, for the older workforce to have an understanding of the connection between digital acuity and higher earnings in the field. This is of the utmost significance because virtually all occupations, including ones that have not traditionally required digital skills, are beginning to do so as a result of the growing popularity of remote work and hybrid employment. This is a trend that is driving the demand for digital skills across the board. At the same time, there is a requirement for future-oriented programmes and resources to satisfy the requirements of older workers so that they can continue to have access to necessary resources such as social networks, public aid, educational opportunities, and gainful employment.
(Author holds a Master's in Applied Psychology from Jamia Millia Islamia. As a young researcher, she aspires to bridge the gap between cognitive psychology and education)