ON THE JOB FRONT
Tech Salaries Remain High Despite Economic Slowdown
Across the board, salaries in tech professions have risen 6.9% in the past year, with some positions - including web developer, technical support engineer and database administrator, and data analyst - leading the pack with double-digit growth, according to a survey by IT career marketplace Dice. IT upgrades and build-outs put on hold during the pandemic resumed in 2021. Companies committed to larger, more aggressive investments in tech that helped overcome disruptions of the previous year - AI, analytics, automation, cloud. Meanwhile, the supply of talent to implement, operate and manage these technologies did not keep up with demand. As competition for talent increased, so did salaries.
While the surge may level off over the next year, salaries are expected to remain high. Wages for tech workers were already on the rise, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data and CompTIA's annual State of the Tech Workforce report. The median wage in tech rose to $94,058 in 2020 from $86,852 in 2019, an increase of 8%. (https://www.ciodive.com/news/tech-talent-salary-spike-hiring/626901/)
MEANWHILE, Upskill Training Gives Valued Staff a Reason to Stay: With salaries on the rise and businesses aggressively pursuing cloud, AI, analytics and other IT upgrades, tech leaders are now looking inward for talent. Upskilling isn't a new idea. But, with demand for talent eclipsing supply, tech leaders are wise to see training not just as a practical solution to skills gaps, but as a means to cultivate workforce engagement and loyalty. (https://www.ciodive.com/news/IT-training-retention-tech-talent/626967/)
71 Cities and Towns Are Paying Remote Tech Workers to Abandon Silicon Valley
A growing number of cities and towns all over the U.S. are handing out cash grants and other perks aimed at drawing skilled employees of faraway companies to live there and work remotely. A handful of such programs have existed for years, but they have started gaining traction during the pandemic - and have really taken off in just the past year or so. Back in October there were at least 24 such programs in the U.S. Today there are 71, according to the Indianapolis-based company MakeMyMove, which is contracted by cities and towns to set up such programs. Because these programs specifically target remote workers who have high wages, a disproportionate share of those who are taking advantage of them work in tech, and especially for big tech companies. Local governments are offering people willing to move up to $12,000 in cash, along with subsidized gym memberships, free babysitting and office space. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/tech-workers-silicon-valley-move-out-11657918928)
Employees Who Switched Jobs During Pandemic Received Salary Bumps & Permission to Work Remotely; Those Perks Are Now Under Threat
For much of the pandemic, tech companies big and small went on hiring sprees where would-be employees could name their price and expect rich, work-from-anywhere perks. Now, as fears of a recession loom, more employers are scaling back or freezing hiring, rethinking how many of their positions should be remote and in some cases even rescinding job offers.
One reason for this change in bargaining power at startups: Capital isn't flowing as freely. As venture firms tighten up terms and investors offer survival advice to portfolio companies prepping for a downturn, startups are more focused on cutting costs than rapid growth. That means spending exorbitant amounts of money on salaries to attract new hires is coming to an end, say those who help recruit for the portfolio companies of venture capital firms.
Not all employees are at a disadvantage. After all, there are still more roles open in the industry than there are people to fill them. Job postings for tech positions reached 505,663 in June, a 62% increase over the same time a year ago, indicating employers that are dialing down hiring are more than offset by those still adding to their ranks, says CompTIA, an IT trade group.
Highly skilled workers in areas such as machine learning and artificial intelligence can still name their price, recruiters say. Nearly a third of all tech job postings in June were for software developers and engineers, according to CompTIA. The number of software development job postings that mention remote work had also risen to nearly 38% at the end of June, up from around 32% during the same period a year ago, according to Indeed.com. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/tech-workers-long-got-what-they-wanted-thats-over-11657877406)
White House-Backed Fund Promises to Accelerate "Deep Tech" Advancements in Cybersecurity
An investment fund supported by the White House and partially bankrolled by tech heavyweights Peter Thiel, Eric Schmidt and Craig Newmark is making a big bet that "deep technologies" will give the U.S. the edge over China - especially when it comes to cybersecurity. The U.S. needs to do more to win the "great nation competition," according to Gilman Louie, CEO of the newly launched America's Frontier Fund, and that means supporting innovation in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, fusion, microelectronics, 6G cellular technology, advanced manufacturing and synthetic biology. Most of these technologies will soon be increasingly embedded in cybersecurity, he said. (https://www.cyberscoop.com/white-house-backed-fund-deep-tech/)
Deepfakes: Next Big Security Threat is Staring Us in the Face
There's a new challenge on the horizon - protecting against the coming wave of digital imposters or deepfakes. A deepfake video uses artificial intelligence and deep-learning techniques to produce fake images of people or events. Many companies publicly list their board of directors and senior management on their website. Often, these high-level business executives will have spoken at events or in the media, so it's possible to find footage of them speaking. By using AI-powered deep-learning techniques, cyber criminals could exploit this public information to create a deepfake of a senior-level executive, exploit email vulnerabilities to request a video call with an employee, and then ask them to make a financial transaction. If the victim believes they're speaking to their CEO or boss, they're unlikely to deny the request.
The FBI has already warned that cyber criminals are using deepfakes to apply for remote IT support jobs, roles which would allow access to sensitive personal information of staff and customers that could be stolen and exploited. While advances in technology means it's becoming more difficult to tell deepfake content apart from real-life video, the FBI has issued advice on how to spot a deepfake, which includes the video warping, strange head and torso movements, along with syncing issues between face and lip movement, and any associated audio. Deepfakes could easily become a new vector for cyber crime, and it's going to be a real struggle to contain the trend. It's entirely possible that organizations will need to develop a new set of rules around authenticating decisions made in online meetings. It's also a challenge to the authenticity of remote working - what does it mean if you can't believe what you see on the screen? (https://www.zdnet.com/article/the-next-big-security-threat-is-staring-us-in-the-face-tackling-it-is-going-to-be-tough/)
OTHER TECH NEWS
Google Maps to Offer Energy-Efficient Routes Tailored to Electric Vehicles, Hybrids
Google Maps is preparing to expand its fuel-efficient routing options by specifically tailoring to electric vehicles, hybrids, and more. Last year, Google Maps began offering an alternative way to navigate your car from one place to another. Where typically a navigation app optimizes for the shortest travel time, Google Maps started offering routes that would be more fuel-efficient and eco-friendly, even defaulting to that route if the ETA is similar. To that end, the latest beta update to Google Maps, version 11.39, includes preparations to specify the engine type of the vehicle you're currently driving. This selection - with options for gas, diesel, electric, and hybrid - will be used by Google Maps to "tailor" your navigation to find what will "save you the most fuel or energy." (https://9to5google.com/2022/07/14/google-maps-efficient-route-electric-hybrid/)
Warehouse Robotics Enters Golden Era as Use Grows
Adoption of robotics in warehouses will increase 50% or more in the next five years, according to surveys taken by the Material Handling Institute, an industry trade group. The goal is mechanical orchestration, in which a team of robots, steered by sophisticated software and artificial intelligence, can move boxes and products in a seamless environment. Unlike assembly line manufacturing, warehouses demand a significant degree of flexibility. Only recently have systems like visioning and artificial intelligence become cheap and powerful enough to sort the tens of thousands of different products streaming through an e-commerce warehouse. This technological leap is part of a larger embrace of robotics: The industry saw a 28% jump in purchases from 2020 to 2021, according to the Association for Advancing Automation. Now the technology is becoming more affordable and filtering down through the industry. (https://www.standardspeaker.com/news/business/robots-arent-done-reshaping-warehouses/article_8baa180c-c6fa-5865-928f-047a5d1a77bc.html and https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/12/business/warehouse-technology-robotics.html)
Powering the Smart Home with Stone & Marble
Researchers at Korea's Kookmin University have fabricated microsupercapacitors integrated into the surface of stone tiles, a technology breakthrough that could one day change the smart home. The team believes that these microsupercapacitors could be used on other building materials as well, such as marble in the future. Integrating power into materials currently used in home building and renovation could save consumers and the power grid in the future. Researchers tested the integrated-electronics stone and found it maintained a high energy storage capacity even after 4,000 charge-discharge cycles. When multiple devices were strung together in a three-by-three array, enough energy was stored to power a light emitting diode (LED). Additionally, researchers found the stone energy storage devices were durable against harsh impacts and could be recycled. (https://electronics360.globalspec.com/article/18372/powering-the-smart-home-with-stone-or-marble)