1Q: Do job cuts at Qualcomm signal a tougher time for high-tech workers in
the near future?
Marney Cox, San Diego Association of Governments
All firms frequently adjust their workforce to reflect changes in the
marketplace. As a particular product line or service falls out of favor with
the firm’s customers, resources are shifted to more profitable ventures.
Economy-wide there are more than 5 million new hires and slightly fewer
separations each month: necessary creative destruction. So while Qualcomm is
letting some workers go, it's likely hiring workers to address changes in
Do job cuts at Qualcomm signal a tougher time for high-tech workers in the
Phil Blair, Manpower
If you have the skills and training desired by employers, you need not worry
about the Qualcomm layoffs. Companies are standing in line to get access to
those resumes, adapt their skills to a new product and keep the high-tech
folks employed. Be sure you always have the skills employers need and you
will never have to worry about job security.
Kelly Cunningham, National University System
Although demand for high-tech skilled workers is currently quite strong, it
will be difficult for many laid-off Qualcomm employees to find equally high-
paying jobs in San Diego. There is not a lot of local jobs paying as well as
Qualcomm. San Diego is an excellent incubator of new start-up companies,
but not so much large corporate entities with high compensation like
Qualcomm. Many workers will need to move to find equally high-paying work.
Gina Champion-Cain, American National Investments
Corporate reorganization is common to business cycles. The volume of high-
technology companies virtually dictates that at any given moment, some
percentage of employers will be reducing staff. The corollary is that others
will be in a growth mode. Skilled workers in this field are in high demand.
As disruptive and stressful as a pink slip can be, this labor pool is best
prepared to readily find a new position.
Alan Gin, University of San Diego
Qualcomm is a unique situation in that many believed it was overstaffed. The
layoffs are meant to reduce labor costs and boost the company’s profits.
But the rest of the tech sector is doing well. The category “professional,
scientific, and technical services” is the leading sector in San Diego
County in terms of job growth, with over 8,000 more jobs this year compared
to the same period last year. The sector may be strong enough to absorb a
lot of those laid-off workers.
James Hamilton, University of California San Diego
“High-tech” is a very broad category. Most people who fall in that group
will continue to find lots of attractive opportunities. But Qualcomm is a
major local company. Some of the workers who lost their jobs have
specialized skills, which other local employers might not value as highly as
Qualcomm did. Some of those who lost their jobs may consider changing their
area of specialization or moving to another city.
Jamie Moraga, intelliSolutions
There will always be demand for high-tech workers in the STEM -- science,
technology, engineering and mathematics -- fields. The recent workforce
reduction at Qualcomm is due to the company’s slower growth, reduced sales,
and increased competition in their market space, and is not a reflection of
employment prospects for high-tech workers now or in the future. These
workers will find employment – and hopefully we can keep the talent here in
Gary London, The London Group Realty Advisors
Products and needs change at a relatively rapid pace in the technology
sector, and there are more disrupters. So, this year’s layoffs are less an
expression of weakness and more about dynamic movement. I expect that many
of these employees will be accommodated in other firms or start- ups. It’s
a healthy economy, so the economic hit at this level of job cut should not
Gail Naughton, Histogen
There has been an increase in the creation of technology and life-science
companies in San Diego, with over 400 new companies being started last year.
The highly trained workforce at Qualcomm is accustomed to working in a
culture of corporate entrepreneurship and is well suited to join these
startups or start their own. Compensation packages in the smaller companies
may rely more on the upside of stock options than high base salaries.
Norm Miller, University of San Diego
It’s not about high-tech. It’s about firm size. California income taxes,
labor laws, excessive NIMBYism and the resulting high cost of housing make
it hard to justify staying in San Diego as firms grow. It’s no surprise we
have few Fortune 500 firms. Qualcomm stayed loyal to San Diego because of
the founder, but in March 2014, the torch was passed and now decisions such
as where to expand are made on more objective criteria.
Austin Neudecker, Rev
The massive trends towards high-tech jobs will continue. Qualcomm’s recent
troubles reflect an unfortunate, but healthy cycle where big tech companies
eventually focus on margins and are disrupted by thousands of upstarts. A
tiny fraction of these startups will grow into giant companies, be acquired
or, more rarely, go public and the cycle begins again. The employees laid
off with these highly demanded skills will have little trouble finding work
in the new wave of growing companies around San Diego. Actually, we at
StartupSD offer to throw a job fair to help place them in the 600-plus
startups around town.
Bob Rauch, R.A. Rauch and Associates
Top quality high-tech workers will continue to be in high demand, even if
their specific areas of expertise need to be retooled for another company's
specific needs. Jobs that require a science, technology, engineering or math
-related degree are crucial for the future of the U.S. economy and will
continue to be a significant part of the local economy. While wages may be
impacted in the near-term, long-term prospects for these highly specialized
workers are bright.
Lynn Reaser, Point Loma Nazarene University
Qualcomm’s job cuts resulted from the saturation of the smartphone market
and the increase in competition, including from its own customer, Samsung.
The company did not move quickly enough into other applications, such as
robotics, wireless medical devices, connected cars, and unmanned vehicles,
which it now intends to do. Technology continues to explode and the
competition for workers remains keen. But it is disruptive, and high-tech
employees need to ride the winning horses.
John Sarkisian, SKLZ
Qualcomm layoffs come at a time of transition at the company due to changes
specific to the wireless industry. The company is 25 years old and will
recast its business to address its next 25 years. The talented people
leaving Qualcomm will start new companies or find other growth companies
that need their uniques skill sets. There is a shortage of high tech workers
in the region and these employees will help fill that shortage.
Dan Seiver, Reilly Financial Advisors
Individual tech firms rise and fall as part of Schumpeter's "creative
destruction." Remember Digital Equipment? Wang Labs? Polaroid? Remember when
Internet Explorer ruled the browser world? New tech firms are constantly
being born, and many have disruptive effects on existing players. Texas
Instruments, Cirrus, Avago and Skyworks supply a lot of the chips and other
parts for the new Samsung Galaxy S6. Scant solace for Qualcomm's laid-off
workers, but many have skill sets that will be in demand elsewhere.