How to Leverage Reskilling to Address the Growing Pressure on Hiring Pullback

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a six-post series on the whitepaper, “Six Factors Influencing the Future of Tech Talent.

When you skim the headlines from the business world, it looks like a bloodbath out there.

  • Alphabet, Google’s parent company, laid off 12,000 people in January – or 6% of their global personnel.
  • Microsoft announced the elimination of 10,000 jobs through the end of March 2023.
  • Amazon announced its intentions to cut around 18,000 jobs in the corporate and technology sector.
  • Meta Platforms, the parent of Facebook and Instagram, laid off 11,000 people in November and recently announced another 10,000 cuts are planned.

Layoffs are here. But as ominous as the headlines seem, they’re not painting the whole picture.

Concurrent with the widely-discussed layoffs, growth in tech jobs continued across industries. For example, the volume of open tech jobs across all sectors increased by 81,000, and US tech companies added over 14,000 workers in June, with job postings for future hiring totaling nearly 240,000.

It is worth noting that although tech layoffs are widely publicized, the tech sector isn’t the only employer of tech talent. Worldwide, industries have invested trillions of dollars in digital transformation – artificial intelligence, data privacy, cybersecurity, cloud connectivity, enterprise business analytics, and cutting-edge user experiences –  the targets for investment are practically endless. Only a fraction of that investment comes from the Silicon Valley “big tech” companies named above.  Software developers and other technical roles are needed and utilized across all industries spanning manufacturing, healthcare, retail, consulting, financial services, insurance, aerospace, energy and everything in between.

Many workers are now able to work for a wider variety of employers, as they can work remotely and live far from the hub of their employer. The wider competition for workers may permanently increase employee quit rates.

During the pandemic years, the STEM sector not only continued its pre-pandemic pace of growth, but also experienced a permanent expansion. Importantly, most of the added STEM professionals are employed in non-STEM industries as Main Street industry is increasingly driven by data and enabled by technology.

We may continue to experience a slowdown in growth. Economic conditions will pressure companies to trim their payrolls, make their workforces more productive, and ultimately maximize their value. This creates great dissonance, as employers have invested several years in employee experience, engagement and retention. They’re unlikely to want to sour their investment or generate poor morale and potential disengagement from the remaining employees.

While sometimes necessary, leaders should be wary of approaching layoffs carelessly – given the damage they can do even to exempt employees.

Notably, the research suggests:

  • 61% of adults between the age of 13 to 34 have layoff anxiety and deal with tremendous pressure.
  • 41% of adults above the age of 35 experience layoff anxiety.
  • 46% of employees report that they are unprepared for being laid off.

And layoffs can bring additional concerns for particular demographics, such as workers without degrees, employees of color, or any other vulnerable group.

While any HR department will always keep an eye on external talent, recruiting alone will not solve all their problems in human capital management (HCM).

Employees wracked with anxiety will not be productive and engaged; it’s challenging to focus on work with your livelihood on the line. Given that, it’s best to approach layoffs systematically and only when genuinely critical.

Talent acquisition teams are being downsized, sending clear signals across many industries that investing in the existing workforce and “doing more with less” will be the prevailing norm in 2023.

Reskilling your current workforce and empowering them to meet your new needs can act as a buffer against these economic challenges and competing demands.

Internal mobility through reskilling is one of the best ways to drive long-term engagement, and studies suggest that retaining employees should be prioritized over hiring in 2023. Learning and development programs that facilitate internal mobility are becoming one of the best ways to retain talent in an otherwise uncertain economic climate. At Tech Elevator, we offer catered solutions ranging from reskilling one, several, or entire classrooms of employees at a time. This approach allows us to enhance tech teams of all sizes.

For example, Tech Elevator has partnered with KeyBank on talent initiatives since 2018. They had found that external talent acquisition alone was insufficient to meet tech talent demand. Concurrently, changes in the business were suppressing demand for certain positions at the company, creating concerns about job stability. Led by Chief Information Officer Amy Brady, KeyBank worked with Tech Elevator to create the Tech Ready program: an internal reskilling program aimed at creating a career pathway from KeyBank branches to the technology organization. Together, we’ve reskilled 81 employees since 2020 – and to date, 100% of these employees have been retained by the company.

There’s a convergence of factors in 2023 and beyond that will present major challenges for companies relying on tech talent for a competitive advantage. These also present huge opportunities. Download the complete Six Factors Influencing The Future of Tech Talent to learn more.

Interested in learning more about how your company can create career mobility opportunities for employees while augmenting your pool of technology talent from within? Read more about our workforce solutions.

Written by Paul Burani, Tech Elevator’s VP of Enterprise