Despite Bad Tech Headlines, Tech Skills Still in Demand
Headlines out of the tech sector have been dispiriting recently. Almost daily, we are seeing news of massive layoffs at large tech companies that have grown to be a foundation of our economy.
Although the current outlook for job seekers in big tech seems negative, today’s environment presents a perfect time for candidates to explore a broader range of opportunities and focus on building tech skills that can translate into success in a wide range of industries.
Something We’ve Seen Before
Volatility is nothing new in the tech sector. The sector that produced the phrase “move fast and break things” is predicated on speed and innovation, but failure is also treated as acceptable and an expected part of doing business.
Today there are cyclical forces putting downward pressure on the industry, which makes the current situation look worse. Supply chain issues and the threat of recession are leading many companies to cut back on all kinds of expenditures from digital advertising to technology hardware. Moreover, we are coming out of the pandemic economy, which was a huge boon for the tech sector, so demand is now likely rightsizing to levels we can expect over the longer-term.
Still Plenty of Opportunity
However, job seekers should not be dissuaded by the current raft of negative coverage coming out of the tech sector. The past has taught us that tech-related industries and advanced manufacturing will bounce back, and a number of trends indicate that the broad demand for qualified tech talent will continue to grow.
The pandemic highlighted the uncomfortable truth that the US does not have an adequate supply of tech talent. Our manufacturing capacity of advanced technologies, such as semiconductors, has been slipping since the 1990s. Moreover, shortages emerged in everything from automobiles to home appliances as global supply chains shut down and our domestic capacity in advanced manufacturing could not keep up with demand.
The breadth of industries that require advanced skills in technology is also expanding. Opportunities are growing in areas such as biotechnology, clean energy, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, and advanced manufacturing of all types.
These two market forces of reshoring our domestic supply chain and an increasing need for tech workers from a broader range of industries indicate there will still be a healthy number of opportunities for the foreseeable future.
There is no ignoring the current volatility, but job seekers should not lose sight of the fact that the need for tech talent continues broadening to an expanding list of industries. Now is a good time to focus on building foundational skills that will both expand their expertise and translate across various industries. Math skills, an understanding of hydraulics, pneumatics, statistical process control, troubleshooting, problem-solving and the ability to work effectively in a team environment provide a strong foundation.
The good news is that the entry points for these well-paying careers in many cases do not require college degrees, making them accessible to a wider range of people.
Leveraging the Moment
Despite recent headlines, job seekers for tech roles have a tailwind behind them as more industries require these skills and the government engages to help grow our talent pipeline. I am encouraged by legislation such as last year’s Chips Act, in which the government made a meaningful commitment to the American technology sector.
Candidates who are either looking for a career change or exploring options after leaving school should keep advanced technology positions at the top of their list. Moreover, possessing these foundational skills reduces the risk of getting pigeon-holed with regard to one’s skillset and can provide a gateway to success in a broad array of careers involving tech and advanced manufacturing.
Tech industries will continue to offer dynamic opportunities across a variety of subsectors that will be essential in ensuring that the US remains a leading economy for the next generation.