ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, December 20, 2022
ACM CareerNews is intended as an objective career news digest for busy IT professionals. Views expressed are not necessarily those of ACM. To send comments, please write to email@example.com
Volume 18, Issue 24, December 20, 2022
Concerns about a global economic downturn impacting tech jobs may be overblown. According to job seekers on the front lines, certain high-end skills remain very much in demand, and it is often possible to line up interviews very quickly. Instead of taking whatever job is available, job seekers can often choose between several companies, in order to find the best fit possible. Of course, the big caveat here is that you have to have the right skills. For software developer roles, hiring managers are looking for a mix of technical and soft skills. They are placing a special premium on candidates who enjoy creative and collaborative work, as well as candidates with highly specialized tech skills in areas such as AI and data science.
Certainly, tech workers should take into account the impact of a potential global economic downturn. After all, more than 900 tech companies have laid off 143,500 employees in 2022 alone. At the same time, the major tech firms have been slimming their workforces since the height of the pandemic. Some experts see these moves as a self-correction from the bloated workforces created during the pandemic, when tech companies with significant online operations prospered during months when other businesses suffered. As for the tech skills in high demand now, in Silicon Valley demand is highest for engineers experienced in artificial intelligence and data science.
The tech workforce is shifting away from familiar hubs and toward cities that have not traditionally been viewed as innovation hotbeds. Houston, Detroit, and Orlando are three cities with the fastest growing tech workforces this year. That being said, traditional tech hubs such as New York, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Austin still ranked highest for job posting volume. Driving the migration from traditional tech corridors are several factors, including demand for remote work and the expansion of the tech workforce in many sectors. New hubs of innovation have begun to emerge in a number of smaller cities, marking a shift away from Silicon Valley toward areas with a lower cost of living and a higher quality of life.
November marked the twenty-fourth consecutive month in which the economy added tech jobs, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. While the tech sector added more than 200,000 new technologists through November, tech occupations across industry sectors grew by 137,000 in November alone, fueled in part by hiring in finance, insurance and manufacturing. As a result, cities such as Topeka, Kansas; Virginia Beach, Virginia; and Worcester, Massachusetts are showing a noticeable uptick in tech employment opportunities.
In looking for the right IT job, it can often be difficult finding the perfect fit. The IT job market, especially during the last two years, has been flooded with technical roles as companies rush to transform their digital infrastructures. Conversely, candidates have growing concerns about a looming recession and workplace flexibility. IT candidates are looking for opportunities with strong internal programs, competitive salaries, and, of course, flexibility. All these factors mean that employees and job seekers must think strategically about finding a fulfilling career path that supports their needs.
There are several key tools to help IT job seekers stand out from the competition and explore various tech roles. IT communities and networks rank at the top of the list. A robust network of fellow IT job seekers and IT professionals can open new doors for those looking for fulfilling career opportunities. These communities provide insight into the job market and enable candidates to share their experience and advice with like-minded professionals. They also allow job seekers to leverage existing networks within an established community to stay updated on the latest IT industry developments. Connecting with those in similar fields can help IT candidates better understand the challenges and the opportunities in the tech arena.
The Freelance Workforce Is Becoming More Highly Skilled and Highly Educated
Fast Company, December 14
Employers are having a hard time finding enough workers, and that may be because millions of Americans are increasingly going to work for themselves, either creating businesses or becoming freelancers. According to a recent study, 39% of the American workforce performed freelance work of some kind this year, an increase of 3% year-over-year. The growing pool of full-time freelancers is not merely composed of people who were laid off or who otherwise lost their jobs over the past few years. It is often young, educated workers who are striking out on their own. Moreover, 26% of all freelancers now hold a postgraduate degree.
There are several factors behind the shift in the freelancing workforce. As a result of the pandemic, for example, there have been changes to our perception of independent work. People are questioning the old ways of working for the first time. The pandemic enabled this realization en masse and helped to accelerate what would likely have been a more gradual adoption. Moreover, skilled professionals recognize the benefits that freelancing offers them from a work and life standpoint. People are starting to scrutinize the confines of a traditional 9-to-5 job. And for those seeking something outside of that, freelancing offers flexibility and control that a traditional job cannot provide.
This Is Why Data Science Will Be a Growth Career in 2023
Finextra, December 9
There are many career paths that continue to offer high-growth career paths, and data science is at the top of the list. As a relatively new field, data science has seen much broader adoption since applications for artificial intelligence, deep learning, and machine learning became possible in the 2000s. There are many different roles in the field, and data scientists can be employed by a wide range of companies or organizations, from tech firms to healthcare to government agencies. They typically work with teams of other professionals such as software engineers or statisticians.
With strong growth in jobs in data science, data analysis, and data engineering, a recent report listed data engineer as one of the fastest-growing jobs in the UK. There is huge scope for anyone already working in the field, as well as opportunities for those looking at entry-level positions. The field is changing rapidly. Data scientists previously focused more on statistics and modeling, but this is changing in favor of coding and AI becoming more essential. The rise of cloud computing has changed the amount of data being processed too. Now, professionals very often explore relationships within enormous sets of information, and coding and machine learning skills are necessary to ensure the correct insights are being gained.
The War For Talent Is a Losing Battle
CIO.com, December 9
It has been almost 25 years since McKinsey introduced the term "talent war" to describe how organizations try to fill existing roles. For almost a quarter of a century, CIOs have been locked in an ongoing battle to attract and retain the IT talent necessary to create competitive advantage. Every year, talent is one of the top challenges facing IT organizations. Every year, lack of critical IT skills is blamed for failure to deliver the full promise of IT investments. With that in mind, the article takes a closer look at what organizations can do to get past this constant cycle of searching out new talent.
Having the right people, with the right skills, working on the right tasks is the key to future success. A recent report from Korn Ferry Institute predicts that by 2030 the tech industry labor-skill shortage will reach 4.3 million. Yet, despite these skills gap projections, in the current global environment, where talent can be sourced from almost anywhere, IT leaders should be able to de-escalate the war for talent. In fact, war might not be the appropriate metaphor for dealing with the massively complex human capital predicament CIOs are working through. War, for example, implies there are enemies to fight and outwit. Traditionally, these enemies are direct competitors looking to hire the same people. However, every company is becoming in some sense a technology company, so this answer is no longer as relevant.
The Great Resignation Is Not Over Yet
Computerworld, December 14
Nearly 25% of employees do not feel secure in their current positions and almost half of them plan to explore new job options in 2023. In fact, over the past year, more than 4 million workers have quit their jobs. This suggests that the Great Resignation brought on by the pandemic is not yet over. The top way employers can improve company culture and retain their workers is by paying their employees market value. Data shows employees are more anxious, burnt-out and financial security-driven than ever. To combat these concerns, HR departments of all sizes must evaluate what they can do to enhance the employee experience.
Attracting, hiring, and retaining top talent has proven to be challenging, especially in the last six months of 2022 as volatile market conditions brought sizable changes to the hiring landscape. Inefficient hiring processes rife with disjointed steps and redundancies have plagued companies for years, exacerbating hiring problems by undermining recruitment pipelines and causing candidate attrition. And as more companies slow or pause hiring, broken processes could allow top talent to be overlooked. Employee burnout is also a key challenge. There are now rapid changes taking place in the employment environment and growing angst over mass layoffs and hiring freezes. Experts believe the layoffs, which have been ongoing for the past three months, are mainly due to poor hiring strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of those being laid off now were hired by panicked managers worried about a dearth of talent caused by the Great Resignation and increased digitization efforts.
Will Artificial Intelligence Spell the End of the Programmer?
The Globe and Mail, December 8
Job seekers looking for a career in artificial intelligence should be aware of how new AI tools are changing the way we work. New tools and systems are making powerful algorithms that allow machines to learn from experience, and to find solutions to problems that were once too complex and involved for a single employee to handle. With AI, organizations are able to streamline processes without a team of programmers. This has raised questions about the future direction of a programming career. Will it remain attractive and highly-paid when software can program itself? For now, at least, AI is still a programming specialty, so it is premature to be talking about the end of the programmer.
The use of AI in the workplace is becoming more widespread. Organizations are seeing more AI tools in integrated development environments (IDEs). Advanced IDEs are now starting to be able to complete what programmers are coding, such as by suggesting several lines of code at once. These tools are not necessarily ushering in the death of the programmer. General-purpose models and tools such as OpenAI Codex and GitHub Copilot are providing software engineers with greater access to systems that use AI to write code, which saves time and energy. Still, the programmer needs to do higher-level work, thinking about what the function would be of the code, and how to organize the code, rather than having to write every line of code in their programs.
FinTech is Dead, Long Live FinTech
Computational Complexity (via ACM Blogroll), December 15
Unfortunately, the recent meltdown of FTX in the crypto market has made it much more difficult for innovators in the field of FinTech. This includes a harder time for startups convincing vendors and partners that they are trustworthy, and a more difficult time raising money for new projects. For job seekers and hiring managers alike, it might become all too easy to conclude that other FinTech firms are also engaged in corporate malfeasance. At the very least, a new wave of regulation could be coming soon, which might have a chilling impact on innovation.
Problems in the crypto market have overshadowed some of the exciting developments happening in the world of FinTech, especially when it comes to blockchain technology. For example, blockchain can be helpful to track our digital goods, so we can use the music, movies, books, games, and other digital assets on different platforms without having to buy them twice. The most important use of FinTech will be for those who have the least, those who pay large fees to have a bank account, cash a paycheck or send money to family overseas. FinTech can be a great democratizing tool, if we use it that way and not just as another get-rich-quick scheme.
The Jurassic Park Moment For AI
Blog@CACM, December 12
New AI systems are now able to generate text and images that look remarkably human-like, with astonishingly little effort. It is no exaggeration to say that systems like these pose a real and imminent threat to the fabric of society. The core of that threat comes from the combination of several facts. These systems are inherently unreliable, frequently making errors of both reasoning and fact. They can also easily be automated to generate misinformation at unprecedented scale. Since they cost almost nothing to operate, and since many are open-sourced, it will be impossible to stuff the genie back in the bottle.
Like it or not, new AI models are here to stay, and we as a society are almost certain to confront some of the difficult situations they create. Already, Stack Overflow, a popular question-and-answer site that most programmers swear by, has been overrun by an AI chatbot, leading the site to impose a temporary ban on chatbot-generated submissions. While sites or platforms might be able to cut down on misinformation, nation-states and other bad actors that deliberately produce propaganda are highly unlikely to voluntarily put down their new arms. Instead, they are likely to use large language models as a new type of weapon in their war on truth, attacking social media and crafting fake websites at a volume we have never seen before. Scam artists, too, are presumably taking note, since they can use large language models to create elaborate networks of fake sites and false information.
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