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More than half of tech workers ‘pre-emptively’ applying for roles in anticipation of layoffs

As layoffs continue to plague the tech sector, many workers are exploring new options to avoid being caught up in redundancy waves

More than half of UK tech workers are taking pre-emptive steps to avoid being caught up in the recent wave of layoffs affecting the global industry.  

A survey of 2,000 tech workers by CWJobs found that 53% of respondents are currently applying for alternative roles in the event that redundancies are announced at their firms.  

The study revealed that current sentiment among London-based tech workers is dire, with nearly two-thirds (63%) pre-emptively applying for a new job in the event of layoffs.  

This marks the highest out of any region across the country, according to the survey.  

Young workers in the industry are the most likely to ensure they have a “plan B in place”, the study found. Around 62% of workers aged 18 to 24 said they are actively applying for new roles.  

However, this is in stark contrast to workers aged 55 and over, with just 24% taking steps to compensate for potential cuts.  

Tech worker uncertainty

CWJobs said the research highlights the lingering anxiety among tech workers across the country over continued layoffs at major firms.  

In recent weeks, a host of firms including Microsoft, Amazon, and Salesforce revealed plans to cut a significant portion of their respective workforces.  

Google also confirmed last week that it will lay off around 12,000 staff as the tech giant looks to weather increasingly unpredictable and challenging economic conditions.  

Dominic Harvey, director at CWJobs, said it is critical that employers reassure staff about the safety of their roles amidst a difficult period.  

“Tech workers are showing signs of uncertainty around job security - likely triggered by what they are reading in the news and on social media,” he said.  

“So, employers need to go the extra mile to reassure them and build a strong sense of security in their current role and long-term career prospects. This could be key to attracting and retaining much-needed talent over the coming months and years,” Harvey added.  

Kevin Poulter, employment partner at national law firm Freeths, said the recent pattern of layoffs means that workers could be more willing to explore opportunities elsewhere as their firms cut back on spending. 

“Such scaling back on spending and growth by big tech has come at a time when the financial markets have been hit by an energy crisis, war, the global impact of climate change and ever-increasing overheads and costs,” he said.  

“Every business has been affected in some way and is seeking to cut back on spend. Employees have also been affected, with many in the tech sector seeking to move roles for more pay, a better way of working, or the chance to be part of the ‘next big thing’. 

“If employees sense trouble ahead, they will be more likely to take up other opportunities they might otherwise have passed up.” 

Tech redundancy data

Despite this uncertainty, research from the recruitment firm found that only a small percentage of tech firms plan on announcing redundancies.  

ONS data shows that just 1.2% of ‘information and communication’ companies are planning to make their workforce redundant over the next three months.  

“This is lower than the average across all businesses (1.5%), suggesting that high-profile tech layoffs are not indicative of the situation in the wider industry,” the firm said. 

Alternative data published by CWJobs found that the number of job vacancies in the UK between October and December 2022 also rose to a record high of 502,151. 

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Across this period, the five roles in highest demand were Software Developer, .NET Developer, Data Engineer, Java Developer, and DevOps Engineer. 

Harvey noted that, despite current concerns around layoffs and economic disruption, there are still ample opportunities for tech workers. As such, businesses should build trust with staff to ensure they don’t lose critical talent during a challenging period.  

“The jobs market remains highly competitive - so if employees or candidates are made to feel insecure or uncertain at any stage, from the job advert through to employment, they will find plenty of opportunities elsewhere”, he said.

“Employers need to address how skilled workers are feeling and take proactive steps to build trust.” 

Laura Baldwin, president at O’Reilly said that alternative research published recently shows there is still a significant demand for tech jobs, which should be reassuring to workers.  

“So much of the conversation over the last six months has been focused on economic uncertainty and layoffs in the tech sector, and yet the recent Jobs on the Rise list from LinkedIn shows that there are many strong, in-demand tech and engineering roles,” she said.  

“It’s refreshing to see the acknowledgement that the sky is not falling for tech workers.” 

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