Disclaimer: I'm nearing 40.
I don't think you're right. Using Google taught me a lot of things I otherwise wouldn't have known. Gone are the days when you could master an IT area without looking up documentation on a daily basis. Before, you had brick-width books which weighted up to 10+ pounds. Now, you have Google AND some books. There is no "better" between the two. I use both.
Self-taught is self-taught, be it through books or online lookup. Memory could only take you so far, and many strains of formal education throughout the world are still following the classic way (learn it by heart or else!) which, let's be honest, is becoming obsolete. But I digress.
Companies are looking to hire young people because:
- they take most shit and are happy eating it. I was there, I've done that.
- they likely don't have a family (so they're more likely to use their free time working)
- they're eager to please (I call it "dog loyalty"). It's not an offensive term, it's just younger people are yet to be screwed over and so they're fully loyal even to a vicious master.
- they're cheaper because employers play on their "lack of experience".
And many other reasons which I'm too lazy to enumerate, most of them being unrelated to technical skills.