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Meta cancels internships amid industry-wide cost-cutting measures

A number of applicants who were due to work in London have been affected by the cutbacks, which Meta says are necessary for 2023

Meta has cancelled a number of planned internships due to macroeconomic headwinds, the latest in a string of wider cost-cutting measures taken by tech giants across the industry.

London-based internship candidates that had been due to begin in January were told via email that they will no longer be given places at the company as anticipated, which the company said was a result of economic pressures that it did not plan for when it made the offers.

The move is part of an overall reduction in 2023 Meta internships worldwide and the company has indicated that it will consider giving fresh offers to those affected as it evaluates its 2023 business operations.

“Meta interns are crucial in shaping our future,” said a Meta spokesperson to IT Pro. “This difficult decision was not made lightly. This company-wide hiring shift is to ensure that our hiring targets are aligned with our highest-priority efforts and business needs.”

Meta has faced internal pressure from investors to more clearly explain its investment costs, such as its Portal smart displays and Orion AR glasses. Additionally, privacy changes made by Apple earlier in the year will have cost Meta an estimated $10 billion dollars by 2023, as it will render Meta’s advertising technology less profitable.

Industry experts have reacted to the announcement with disappointment, with some arguing that in a market increasingly defined by its skills gap, companies cutting their graduate schemes are doing damage in the long term.

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"It's a sad day when a tech company as big and as infamous as Meta is no longer taking on interns,” said Liam Reynolds, CEO at tech job fair Silicon Milkroundabout.

“It really does bring to sharp focus the challenge that grads and those just getting started on their careers are facing right now. They simply don't have access to the same opportunities that their counterparts would have done only a couple of years ago. And companies appear to be going in the wrong direction in trying to address this. The short term cost-cutting and shareholder appeasement is at the very human expense of investing in the next generation of talent.”

In recent months, a number of cuts and hiring freezes have been announced across big tech, with firms pointing to economic uncertainty as an explanation.

Microsoft has already looked at slowing its hiring, and cloud communications platform Twilio has announced an 11% workforce reduction, too.

Google has also reportedly cancelled its next Pixelbook range to save costs. With the economic crisis and the cost of living rising sharply, customer demand and stock prices are all in deeply uncertain territory.

Whether such immediate measures to cut costs will translate into a wider shift in industry hiring practice is uncertain. The speed with which big tech has reacted to economic shifts could be replicated with a shift back to workforce growth once economic turbulence has settled, and smaller firms could benefit in the meantime from a wider pool of applicants.

"Is this a longer-term problem? I don't think so," said Jeff Watkins, chief product and technology officer at xDesign. "We see these cycles of building headcount, reduction and then the inevitable spend on consultancies and outsourcing because the work isn't really going away, some of it just gets deferred.

“Bigger picture - the industry will continue to grow, it's just going to be painful for a while, especially if you're an intern or a junior."

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