Harsh Reality for Record Number of Computer Science Grads: Software Employment Has Peaked - The Average Joe

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    Harsh Reality for Record Number of Computer Science Grads: Software Employment Has Peaked

    Noah Weidner

    June 27, 2024

    Tech companies and startups overhired, overspent, and overpromised — so what they’re doing now that the money isn’t coming as easily should be no surprise. Since 2022, the industry has laid off over 528K workers, echoing the downturns of the Dotcom Bubble and the Great Recession. Even with an improving economy and record stock valuations, jobs aren’t returning. This time, things might really be different.

    Peak software: ADP reports that the US employs fewer software developers than pre-pandemic — with a 17% drop since 2018. Job opportunities in traditionally stable tech fields are also drying up as software companies’ growth slows (and companies rethink the economics of their businesses)

    • In the last 18 months, job growth for software publishers, including software developers, has stalled — with a 30% year-over-year decline in full-time job postings by tech firms, according to student job site Handshake.
    • California, the hub of America’s tech scene, now hosts fewer tech jobs than before the pandemic, says data journalist Joey Politano — erasing a surge that added hundreds of thousands of roles.

    End of Days?

    Computer and tech-oriented programs are one of the only degrees that have seen an increase in enrollment in recent years — no surprise, considering STEM degrees rank among the highest-paid college majors. However, the sluggish job market for tech employees raises concerns about graduates finding quality positions.

    • From 2011-2021, computer science graduates from top research universities increased 12x, with a 40% rise in computer and information science majors over the past five years (WSJ).
    • CompTIA’s Tim Herbert says that “job seekers need to reset their expectations,” including compensation and employer preferences, to find jobs in the industry.

    Forward-looking: While the BLS predicts double-digit growth in computer and IT jobs over the next few years, billionaire Mark Cuban warned long ago that AI could reduce demand for tech professionals over the long run. Pace Capital’s Chris Paik took it a step further in his new essay “The End of Software” — saying that “majoring in computer science today will be like majoring in journalism in the late 90’s.” These warnings might make students rethink their degree — or reconsider college entirely.

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