The study--"Barriers to entry for the older worker"--carried out by Professor Marie Wilson of the University of Auckland Business School and graduate student Jordan Kan looked at barriers for entry into employment for older job applicants in three sectors--sales, HR administration, and nursing.
In discussions with potential employers during the research the key factor that differentiated older and younger employees was the assumed flexibility and adaptability of younger workers. The youngest applicants were described as "trainable", easy to "get up to speed" and "go-getters". Applicants aged 40 were described as "settled" and older applicants were described as "set in their ways".Source: New Zealand Human Rights Commission News Release (October 29, 2006)
One employer responded to three similar applicants differentiated by age only in the following way - he invited the youngest applicant in for a chat about whether he wanted to train for the post, the middle aged candidate was told his "experience was not relevant" and the 55 year old candidate was told his "qualifications didn't meet the requirements of the company" despite no qualifications being specified.