The Value of Tech Skills in a Volatile Labor Market
Published Mar 22 2023 09:00 AM 14.8K Views

Companies across the tech industry made significant layoffs in the first few months of 2023. According to recent reports, more than 100,000 individuals lost their jobs at leading technology companies, including Microsoft, AWS, Dell, IBM, Salesforce, and Meta.


But the news is not all negative. According to data from LinkedIn, in the broader economy, the overall layoff rate remains at a record low. And while tech has seen outsized declines in hiring, according to LinkedIn’s latest Workforce Report, experts say that’s likely because the sector underwent a hiring spree in the wake of the pandemic. “This sector now appears to be undergoing a rebalancing,” says Kory Kantenga, Ph.D., senior economist at LinkedIn.


The great “rebalancing”

This “rebalancing” doesn’t mean tech skills are less in demand. In fact, according to LinkedIn Learning’s latest Most In-Demand Skills Report, software development is the most in-demand hard skill, with programming languages including SQL, Python, and Java as well as cloud computing among the top ten hard skills.


Rebalancing among the top tech companies also doesn’t mean demand for tech skills is slowing in other industries. In fact, as technology becomes ubiquitous across organizations of all types, demand for tech skills is growing across many industries. Verticals such as healthcare, education, banking, and manufacturing rely heavily on technical talent and continue to seek employees with strong tech skills.


Growing need for AI-supporting technical skills

For example, according to the World Health Organization, digital innovation in the healthcare industry is emerging at unprecedented scale with artificial intelligence (AI) being one of the key areas of innovation. In response, we should expect to see opportunities emerge for professionals with software and data engineering, data governance, and cybersecurity skills.


“While AI developments may support human judgment and make diagnoses more efficient, human interaction and engagement with the technology will remain an important aspect of these roles,” says Kantenga. “Therefore, we can expect AI-supporting technical roles in healthcare to grow steadily in coming years.”

Connecting job seekers to organizations through Microsoft Learn

As all jobs become technology jobs, the focus shifts to how to prepare talent for the current labor market and connect that talent to organizations in need of tech skills. Microsoft Learn has many resources to help professionals advance their skills and expertise, as well as make the connections they need to take their careers to the next level.


Early career talent and those seeking a career change who recognize the need to bring tech into their skillset can gain skills and connect with employers with the help of Microsoft Learn Career Connected. This recently launched program pairs the tools and resources of Microsoft Learn, Microsoft’s skilling platform, with the power of LinkedIn.


“There is great value in leveraging existing ecosystems such as LinkedIn to connect job seekers with organizations in search of tech talent,” says Rachel Wortman Morris, Ph.D., director of Talent and Employability at Microsoft.


“Through Microsoft Learn Career Connected, we are building an incredible community where we connect people to employers and workforce development partners. Within that group, we have a strong community moderator who works to surface new opportunities, helps people develop new skills, and provides job seekers with opportunities to improve their LinkedIn profiles. Introducing job seekers into this broader ecosystem gives them access to more robust career opportunities,” says Wortman Morris.

Bring skills to life with Microsoft Learn

Microsoft also offers the Microsoft Learn for Educators program, which provides higher education institutions and educators with a suite of comprehensive tools and resources to augment students’ existing degree paths with industry-recognized certifications. Dr. Derek Foster, associate professor and program leader in the School of Computer Science at the University of Lincoln in the UK, joined the program in 2020. Since then, students at the university have earned nearly 2,500 Microsoft technical certifications.


“Through the program, we get a broad range of high-quality Microsoft learning materials we can blend into our existing academic materials to provide students a comprehensive experience,” says Foster. “It’s relatively straightforward to adopt the materials and edit them if needed or drop in other elements from which students might benefit. Lifting and shifting labs into our academic modules is a more optimal approach than creating them ourselves.”


Foster says students love the interactive approach the labs offer. “The students say they learn the most when they are doing the practical stuff, when they are bringing these skills to life. Microsoft Learn is built for that.”


Microsoft Certifications remain the industry gold standard

According to Foster, earning certifications not only provides students with transferable skills, but it also helps them differentiate themselves from other graduates. “It proves that they’ve taken the extra time and gone over and above the basic requirements to earn universal recognition in a specific skill set,” he says. “It proves they already have applicable experience in a toolset the industry is looking for.”

Obtaining certifications benefits employers as well. Foster says companies often report that they put new employees through the same certification programs within their first year of employment. Therefore, previously certified students can often start new jobs six to 12 months ahead of counterparts that haven’t earned a Microsoft certification.


It’s always a good time to learn new skills

Fluctuations in the economy and the job market will likely continue throughout 2023 and well into the future. The best way to ensure job seekers are prepared for such ebbs and flows is to stay on top of the latest in-demand skills. For example, LinkedIn data shows that skills for today’s jobs have changed by 25 percent since 2015. That number is expected to double by 2027.


“The more that early career learners can keep up with evolving skillset needs, the better they can differentiate their skills in a competitive market,” says Andrew McCaskill, career expert at LinkedIn. “Whether you’re looking to grow in your current role or industry or build your expertise to get started in a new role, keeping your skills sharp and demonstrating proficiency with business-critical tasks, is very important and will give you a competitive edge when applying for new jobs.”


And despite news headlines, tech skills will continue to see strong demand. “Technology will play a big role as businesses look to increase the quality of what they're doing and optimize their processes,” says Wortman Morris. “Tech will be involved in more functions and systems that are a part of work or that inform the workplace. The better your tech skills, the more value you can bring to an organization.”


Learn more about our programs

Microsoft Learn for Educators—helping educators build their students’ technical skills for the future

Microsoft Learn Career Connected—helping job seekers build technical skills and connect to companies that are hiring newly skilled people

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