According to a recent article, the mass layoffs in the technology sector have surprised thousands of workers who had never experienced such changes before. Companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Meta have let go of employees, leading them to seek employment in industries that are not typically associated with tech work. Surprisingly, long-established employers such as hotel chains, retailers, investment firms, railroad companies, and even the Internal Revenue Service have expressed their interest in hiring software engineers, data scientists, and cybersecurity specialists.
These industries recognize the opportunity to level the playing field against tech giants who have attracted top talent with lucrative compensation packages and attractive benefits. They aim to compete by offering stability and growth prospects that may outweigh the allure of working for big tech brands. Among these industries making an aggressive push for tech talent is the federal government. In fact, federal agencies plan to hire 22,000 tech workers in fiscal year 2023.
The federal government’s goal is twofold: they hope to alleviate their own chronic labor shortages while also strengthening cybersecurity defenses and modernizing their operations. To achieve this objective, they have engaged in a series of “Tech to Gov” initiatives aimed at attracting workers from the private sector. The efforts seem to be paying off as federal job postings in technology-related roles have surged by 48% compared to last year.
This surge stands in stark contrast to a decline in tech job postings across other sectors. Tech hires reached an all-time high of over 4 million in 2022 but began dropping off in the second half of the year. This year has seen approximately 1.26 million tech job postings between January and May—numbers more consistent with pre-pandemic levels.
While competition for tech talent remains fierce—with an unemployment rate of only 2%—some individuals who lost their jobs at big tech companies quickly found employment at non-tech firms. For example, Hector Garcia was hired by Abbott after being let go by Facebook’s Meta. Garcia, a data architect, explained that he was intrigued by the idea of working for a manufacturer that produces tangible medical devices.
The layoffs have been particularly shocking for a new generation of workers who grew up consuming apps and services from big tech brands. The volatility and layoffs experienced last year shattered their perception of stability and growth in the industry. Consequently, there has been a 4.4 percentage point decrease in technology major applications to tech companies via Handshake—a leading career site for undergraduates and graduates—while government job applications increased by 2.5 percentage points.
Tech companies have still witnessed a 46% increase in requests for tech specializations, although applications for government jobs have tripled from last year. Furthermore, hospitality and healthcare industries have also seen an increase in technology specialization applications.
These trends indicate that young tech workers are increasingly open to considering opportunities outside of big tech firms. They recognize the potential benefits offered by government jobs such as pension plans, job stability, and the opportunity to work on various subjects.
While the federal government faces competition from private sector companies making similar proposals, other industries like hotels and restaurants have also posted more tech jobs compared to last year. Hilton, for instance, has experienced a significant increase in applications for technology specialist internships and full-time positions through Handshake.
The coup de grace, the recent mass layoffs at big tech companies have presented an opening for other sectors to attract top tech talent. Industries such as hospitality, healthcare, investment firms, retailers, railroad companies, and even the federal government are actively seeking software engineers, data scientists, and cybersecurity specialists. This shift highlights changing preferences among young workers who are increasingly considering non-tech options due to perceived stability and growth prospects offered by these industries.
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