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Implications of tech layoffs and economic downturn

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I’m often asked about job prospects for engineering students in the context of economic turbulence and widespread layoffs. A key counterpoint is the rate at which technological innovation is accelerating: advances in AI, astonishing breakthroughs in health engineering, and the CHIPS and Science Act are all setting the stage for an explosion in the demand for engineers. In our last quarterly newsletter, I wrote about platforms enabled by large language models such as ChatGPT. With growing adoption of – and reliance upon – such platforms, we can anticipate a wave of start-ups vying for market share. Baskin Engineering Associate Dean Jim Whitehead observes that many VCs have “kept their powder dry,” waiting for the implications of this technology to be better understood, so a boom in capital investment is likely on the horizon. These same economic conditions will generate a similar boom in the semiconductor industry and in companies developing biotech-enabled disease detection and mitigation solutions.

recent Wall Street Journal study ranked UC Santa Cruz second among public schools for high-paying jobs in engineering for its graduates and ninth for high-paying jobs in data science and software. So, while the ebb and flow of industry priorities can be disruptive, engineering graduates will continue to be in high demand. The industry’s continuing growth, the unique skill set that engineering graduates possess, and their versatility and hands-on experience are all factors that make our students valuable assets to companies in the tech industry.

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