The world of IT and technology has always been one full of innovations. In recent years the technology industry has been evolving past what people thought it would be capable of back in the 90s when the internet was first invented, being THE industry to go into in order to get an easy life, getting your major in CS and already earning almost 100k right out of college. However, in recent weeks, many big tech-centric companies have been laying off thousands.
Google, Meta, Microsoft, and even Amazon layoffs have cut almost 50,000 people combined, and there are two reasons for this surge in unemployment: Covid and Automation
During the Covid Pandemic, hundreds of people were being employed daily, especially in the tech industry. Thousands of fresh faced college graduates with relevant degrees were being hired and getting a median income of almost 100k, which is absolutely insane considering that the median in the U.S is just 31k, according to the United States Census Bureau. It can be inferred that people were desperate for experts in this digital age, and so the more experts, the merrier. And so, it isn’t surprising that, according to data experts at 365 Data Science, the median time a recently laid off employee had been working in the company was roughly two years, leading us to believe that this is a result of a hiring policy revision in the tech department. Now what’s interesting however, is the median experience of the employees that were let go was 11.5 years, meaning that these aren’t just fresh graduates being let go. It could be that due to employees with more experience receiving more pay, and so if they were to cut down on that expense, the company would benefit financially.
Another possible reason can be the fact that AI and automation is slowly, but surely, taking over the management and HR side of things in the industry. There exist several different platforms to automate actions such as recruitment, background checks, identity verifications, and health and safety assessments. It was even reported amazon has used the ever popular AI to identify under-performing employees and fire them. Whether or not AI has gotten to the point of those dystopian sci-fi movies with robots taking jobs and putting people out of business, we must still consider the fact that there are certain technologies that companies can utilize in order to cut labor costs. Why pay for a human employee’s salary when a robot can do a much more precise job without even mentioning pay?
Not only is this major uptick in layoffs a sign of automation and the after-effects of the pandemic, but it is a major sign for those looking to get into the tech industry. The pandemic gave people a false sense of security, allowing them to believe that they will be hired easily if they just get a degree in some kind of technology field and get an internship at a large tech company. Given the recent events, this will not be the case, as even interns aren’t safe. Amazing, which had hosted 18,000 interns in the year of 2022, has stated in a New York Times report that it is considering cutting down their intern class by half. According to Google’s director of their internship program, Andrea Florence, will not be bringing on as many interns as in previous years. The fact that these layoffs haven’t excluded these interns goes to show that a computer science degree from a prestigious university isn’t enough to score the “coveted” positions in the big corporations. It additionally shows that getting into a big tech company isn’t the dream that you’re looking for. Small to medium sized companies have been suffering for a while, and it’s time that we pay attention to them.
In the end, a job is a job, what matters is what you are doing with your job and how you can help others. And so, my fellow aspiring computer scientists and engineers, think very carefully about what you want with your degree. The future of tech isn’t as stable as we once thought it to be, so don’t be discouraged if you aren’t immediately hired by Amazon or Google. It’s not the salary that matters, it’s what you do that counts.