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IT depts struggle with skills shortages despite Big Tech layoffs

You'd think there'd be more techies on the market, but many cuts were in business areas

While the tech sector job losses ticker has clocked up a global body count of 150,000 so far for 2023, those looking to hire IT staff are not out of the woods yet, according to Gartner.

The market watcher has found demand for technology talent still significantly exceeds supply. According to a Gartner survey of around 18,000 employees conducted in November and December 2022, 86 percent of CIOs reported more competition for qualified candidates and 73 percent worried about IT talent attrition.

During the time of the survey, Meta, Google, and Salesforce had already started laying off staff. Since the beginning of 2023, 513 tech companies have chopped around 150,000 employees, according to tracker website

Notable tech giants showing staff the door include Twitter, which has fired more than half on its payroll; Salesforce, which gave notice to 10 percent of its workforce; Microsoft which laid off around 10,000 staff; and Meta, which cut 10,000 jobs in March, having already said goodbye to 11,000 roles in November last year.

However, publicly available data shows 54 percent of Meta job losses were among business professionals, rather than tech jobs, said Mbula Schoen, Gartner senior director and analyst.

Meanwhile, tech skills in application development, AI and machine learning, Python specifically, software engineering and enterprise cloud architecture remained hard to find, she told The Register.

“When I speak to CIOs, I hear it's still taking four to six months to backfill a position. My recommendation is to double down on your retention strategies because if you lose your top tech talent, it will take a lot longer to fill that position and higher costs,” she said.

The talent shortage also meant that tech workers with the right skills were likely to continue to command relatively high salaries as employers compete for their services.

“Compensation is not going anywhere. It is the number one attraction and acquisition driver. Benchmark compensation and ensure that you’re not too far away from the market,” Schoen said.

Gartner obviously hasn't listened to TCI Fund boss Sir Christopher Hohn, who wants Google to reduce its wage bill, and even asked for CEO Sundar Pichai to go further with headcount reduction.

Meanwhile, employers should consider seeking out so-called passive candidates who are not necessarily looking to move, Schoen told us. “With all the massive layoffs happenings, there's going to be a certain sense of uncertainty. This is an opportunity for CIOs to really collaborate with HR and start reaching out proactively. I'm not saying this is new, but we could ramp up those activities,” she said. ®

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