Are Tech Jobs Secure? Thriving Through 2023's Tech Layoffs and Beyond

Meta, Apple, Microsoft, Shopify, and more: The 2023 tech layoffs sent a shockwave of concern through the industry that had analysts and experts alike hustling to provide answers—and reassurances.

Is tech still a viable career? Will AI help or hinder the job market? Tech graduates and career changers planning on entering the industry in 2024 can’t be blamed for being fearful; global media can paint a troubling picture. 

Fortunately, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Following the shaky start to the year, the outcome for the rest of 2023 and beyond is clear: Industry experts—and the job market—agree that tech remains the future of the global workforce. 

In this article, we’ll explore the impact of the recent tech layoffs, the state of hiring in 2024 and beyond, and what the rise of AI means for tech jobs. 

  1. The Big Tech layoffs
    1.1 Are all sectors affected?
    1.2 Are tech graduates still finding jobs?
    1.3 Are remote tech jobs still on the rise?
  2. The impact of AI on tech jobs
    2.1 Will AI mean more tech layoffs?
    2.2 How will AI shape hiring in the future?
  3. The future and key takeaways

1. The Big Tech layoffs

The economic downturn, inflation, higher interest rates, overhiring during the pandemic, and a settling in of the post-pandemic reality are just some of the factors that contributed to the slew of layoffs across the bigger tech companies in late 2022 through to 2023. 

But while Big Tech may be suffering right now, experts agree that tech roles are safe.

Let’s start with a look at the wider market. 

1.1 Are all sectors affected?

Sarah Doody, Founder and CEO of Career Strategy Lab, says that Big Tech seeing layoffs isn’t necessarily a foreshadowing of layoffs across other industries.

Concerns of a potential “rolling recession” have compounded graduates’ and career changers’ fears that there’s no safe space, but the wider U.S. economy seems to have escaped a recession. 

“It’s clear—you just have to look outside the tech industry, at companies in travel, finance, healthcare, education, government, and more, and you’ll see hiring trends continue unabated,” says Doody. She expands on how to use this to your advantage in her article on how to look for tech jobs outside of the tech industry

Sectors like government, healthcare, accommodation, and food services have been identified as strongly recession-proof, and are just three of the many that are hiring across a variety of tech roles.

Looking internationally, the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report estimates that 97 million new roles may be created by technological development globally by the year 2025, ranging across 15 different major industries, such as manufacturing, healthcare, and energy. 

Mike McCulloch, Director of Outcomes at CareerFoundry, says that when looking for new opportunities, as a tech worker, it’s important not to limit your job search to the more obvious or traditional choices.

“Ask yourself what industries and kinds of companies interest you. Where are your passions? What kinds of companies do you see yourself working for?

“Go big, but also go local. Determine who the regional players are in industries you’re interested in and who the smaller companies working to build their brand are. These are the companies that will be doing the most hiring over the coming months and years,” says McCulloch. 

1.2 Are tech graduates still finding jobs?

The effect of the Big Tech layoffs can be seen directly in recent graduate job searches: Handshake reports that tech graduates are looking to new industries as they apply to full-time jobs—including government and healthcare.

But those hoping to work in the giants of the tech industry have reason to be optimistic, too. CompTIA’s Tech Jobs Report shows that available jobs are on a strong rise despite the earlier 2023 Big Tech layoffs and a hiring freeze. According to the report, tech industry employment has seen a dramatic increase month-over-month, with April surging beyond peak 2022 numbers.  

And specialist tech roles like web designer (UI/UX) top Indeed’s list of 19 IT Jobs That Are in High Demand, alongside roles such as data analyst and web developer, which continue to see increasing demand across different sectors. 

McCulloch says that CareerFoundry’s own research confirms this. “While open positions for UX and UI designers took a hit in January 2023, they are in the process of rebounding to early 2022 levels. So while jobs in Big Tech might be shrinking for the moment, there are still plenty of jobs out there for roles like UX designers,” he says.  

1.3 Are remote tech jobs still on the rise?

With remote and hybrid work forecast as important elements of the future of work, the question of remote work availability in the face of layoffs is another concern for prospective tech workers. 

Will new ways of working be able to survive the layoff panic stations? 

In actual fact, shifting into new ways of working is precisely what will enable smaller companies that are less affected by the layoffs to continue to thrive, and the cost-cutting elements of this type of work are an aid to help struggling companies rebound.

According to research by MarketsandMarkets, the remote workplace services market size is expected to increase from USD 20.1 billion in 2022 to 58.5 billion by 2027, signaling a robust industry that will continue to thrive despite the Big Tech layoffs. 

Remote work continues to be a draw in tech workers, with data analysts and web developers being particularly sought after for remote and hybrid work, the latter of which is forecast to make up the majority of knowledge workers by the end of 2023. 

To find remote roles and begin exploring other, non-tech-specific industries, Doody says to expand your search beyond specialist job portals and look at sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor, which cater to every market.

“Industry experience is not a specific must-have, but even cursory preparation and research will serve you well when it comes time to interview,” she says.  

And to get that interview in the first place, Doody says to ensure your personal brand is polished, make sure your resume and cover letter skills are up to date, and most importantly, tailored for the role and industry. 

2. The impact of AI on tech jobs

Building on the fears from the Big Tech layoffs, bleeding-edge innovations have many worried, particularly tech specialists. The question of whether AI will replace jobs and lead to more mass layoffs, in particular, is dominating the news cycle.  

2.1 Will AI mean more tech layoffs?

Fortunately, this fear is highly unlikely, says Martin Ramsin, CEO of CareerFoundry, who has built his career through agile responses to future work trends. He compares the rise of AI to the introduction of digital photography, which at the time seemed like a threat to job security but instead brought the industry to new heights. 

“Like any ground-breaking digital innovation, AI is just a tool that, when used correctly, is of immense benefit. UX designers are already using AI to assist them in their jobs, allowing them to be more efficient, calculated, and, above all, effective,” says Ramsin. 

Sarah Doody agrees with this and says that AI’s impact on tech roles like UX design will be a positive one: “It’s a tool for efficiency like any other and will free up professionals’ time. When used properly, AI can, for example, help UX researchers analyze research or UX writers brainstorm copy.” 

But Doody holds no stock in the fear that AI will be able to replace tech roles completely, especially those like UX design, which places the user as the focal point. 

“AI can’t successfully create personas, write usability tests, or write UX copy from scratch. It’s curious that some UXers believe they can outsource their deliverables to AI when, at the core of what many UX people are passionate about, is empathy. At this point, AI lacks the inputs that would allow it to truly have empathy for the user,” she says.  

As such, those in tech roles or aspiring tech workers should look into how they can use their existing expertise to realize the full benefit of AI for their end product or service. Look into upskilling on AI, research courses that integrate AI tools, and keep abreast of industry developments.

As anyone in tech knows, a willingness to adapt is crucial when facing new challenges.

2.2 How will AI shape hiring in the future?

Trend analysis indicates that we can actually expect a boom in hiring thanks to the development of AI. Companies are looking to get in on the ground floor, and the only way to do so is with the help of technologists who have the expertise to tailor these technologies to the needs of the company or user. 

As Conor Sen writes in Bloomberg, “In the short-term, the promise—or at least the hype—of AI is shifting tech company psychology from profit-maximizing cuts toward another potential arms race as companies fight to win the future. And that could be good news for everyone. A stabilized job market for tech workers is yet another bulwark against the recession that most people continue to fear, but that keeps being pushed off into the future.”

Once again, top candidates for positions will be those with some experience in AI, certainly, but those with specialist expertise will be first called upon. 

3. The future and key takeaways

It’s natural to be concerned about the future of employment at any time, let alone when companies once considered industry stalwarts report recession-level layoffs. However, it’s vital not to let fear overshadow facts. 

Tech is built on a foundation of innovation and continues to be the main driver for a local and global economy: in fact, it’s in second place after healthcare in driving the U.S. economy. This alone means tech roles will continue to be in demand well into the future. 

When looking to future-proof your career, continuous learning, upskilling, taking an agile approach, and being welcoming to new ways of working remain the best ways to ensure you’re always a top candidate, regardless of shifts in the market.

If you still have questions—or concerns—speak to one of the CareerFoundry program advisors to learn how our courses will help prepare you for the future of the industry. 

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