January 26, 2023

The Tech Talent Shift: Opportunities (and Cautions) for 2023

By Jim Chilton, Chief Technology Officer

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In the second half of 2022, a shift started to take shape in the tech talent market. We saw massive layoffs from tech giants including Twitter, Amazon and Facebook, which have continued into 2023 with Salesforce, Google and Microsoft also announcing large cuts.

These layoffs have without a doubt rocked a market that in recent years has seen the competition for top talent so fierce that candidates starting off their careers or making a switch could see five or more job offers. While these layoffs can be unsettling for tech talent, it would be naive for employers to think the ball was fully back in their court. The fact of the matter is that it is still very much a job seekers' market as the demand for jobs in tech trends upward. Unemployment remains at record lows and employers across industries added more than one hundred thousand tech jobs in December alone.

As we kick-off the new year, I wanted to share my advice to both employers hiring technology talent and job seekers in technology for how to address this tech talent shift in 2023 and beyond.

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A Caution for Tech Talent Employers

In recent months, we’ve seen several household names in the tech space take dramatic steps to trim back their workforce. Ironically, many of these were the same companies we saw exponentially increase their hiring during the early months of the pandemic. Fears of a recession have driven these companies to react with extreme caution, scaling back new projects, products and services, and in many cases, trimming back to basically what will keep the lights on.

In the long term, this approach could end up hurting rather than helping companies. While many are fearful of a recession, the job market is still strong. In fact, the tech unemployment rate is even lower than the overall unemployment rate at 2%. Letting go of top talent who are pushing innovation could end up leaving many of these companies in a game of catch-up when the dust settles.

In this same vein, employers shouldn’t lose sight of their retention strategies. Again, technology talent is still very much in-demand, and holding onto top tech employees will be a priority in 2023. If anything, the pandemic, coupled with the tech layoffs seen in 2022, increased the value that many job seekers put on employment factors beyond compensation and perks. Many tech workers are taking a pause to think about those other factors outside of their paycheck like stability, work-life balance and benefits like the ability to work remotely. Employees are also asking themselves if their company mission and leadership philosophy align with their personal beliefs.

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Employers need to also make sure they continue to focus on initiatives and pathways for growth and development. Upskilling and reskilling options are no longer a nice-to-have for employers, but a must have to retain top talent. In fact, our recent research report, “Where Are They Now? The Great Resigners, One Year Later”, found 66% of respondents said access to employer-paid online training and upskilling opportunities was an important factor in accepting their current job. Tech employees want to see their employers invest in their career trajectory and professional growth with options for continued digital learning and development.

The Opportunity for Technology Talent

The caution for tech talent is not to panic. The need for tech talent is not going away. The opportunity might just be changing. While traditional tech giants might be cutting back, every industry has a growing need for strong technology talent including in artificial intelligence, data science, DevOps and cybersecurity. So, the offers for tech jobs, like in software engineering, might be fewer and in a wider range of industries, but the need isn't going away.

This moment offers talent an inflection point to truly consider their priorities when it comes to what factors will lead them to fulfillment in their job. Is compensation still a main driver? Or have recent moves by tech powerhouses (and their leaders) led to the conclusion that a balance of factors might be more realistic. Increasingly, I think we will start to see the latter drive decisions from tech talent and shape the future of the industry.

Additionally, the opportunity for reskilling and upskilling in technology is expanding rapidly. The growing proliferation of flexible, short-duration skills programs, like those offered through our Cengage Work business, provide new opportunities for existing talent to expand their skill set, and new job seekers to further their competencies to break into the space.

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Overall, while the technology talent landscape might be changing, the need for tech workers continues to grow exponentially, even if where that tech talent is needed might be different. For employers, this means they need to continue to focus on tactics to attract and retain top talent. And for talent, it means they need to consider their priorities, look outside the box for new opportunities and continue to expand their skillset to stay competitive in the market.

Learn More

Find out about reskilling and upskilling opportunities with the flexibility of remote learning experiences offered by Cengage Group by checking out our ed2go and Infosec offerings.

We’re Hiring

If you’re interested in learning more about what it’s like to work in edtech at Cengage Group, read more Employee Experiences and visit our Careers page to view open technology positions.

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