Displacement and replacement: How big tech layoffs can help the federal market


With layoffs seemingly in the news daily, there is a way for agencies and contractors to attract highly skilled tech experts to the stability and mission of the federal government.

The articles are pervasive. Your network on LinkedIn has clued you in. Your friends in technology, at least those with the largest IT firms, are being laid off. Big tech has and continues to eliminate thousands of positions in the industry, effectively leaving top talent unemployed and looking for their next opportunity.

If you’re sitting in the federal bubble, however, you might be looking to these professionals to transfer their skills to your agency or company. The Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Veterans Affairs are already jumping at the opportunity to attract these experts at recently held job fairs. With so many IT prospects searching for their next step in cybersecurity, it might be a match made in heaven.

Cybersecurity, Data, AI/ML and Overall Modernization

Nearly all federal agencies, both across the Department of Defense as well as the civilian sector, have dialed in their efforts on modernizing networks, and incorporating much more stringent cybersecurity protocols, as well as data analysis and protection in FY23.

A large portion of their objectives continues to be the development of a zero-trust architecture. As it stands, the DoD is looking to incorporate a fully functioning zero-trust framework by 2027. Part of this exceedingly intricate process involves “pillars” to tackle cybersecurity-related subsects across agencies including identity, devices, networks, application workload and data.

Speaking of data, the call for clean data to be both actionable and interoperable, incorporating artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities as well, has resonated with agencies. It stands a natural connection then, that we see so many big tech employees with these skills potentially filling the need just in time to meet the deadlines federal agencies are hoping to achieve.

The Right Match

It’s not only the technology advancement sought after by agencies, but also, and arguably more important in the long run – the need to attract, obtain and retain talent within the federal workforce. The DoD has made it publicly clear across its departments as of late that their existing workforce is waning, either from retirement and the aging out of the average employment age, or from a lack of skilled population to recruit from.

Potential Challenges

What then, might be the hold up? Perhaps the pay gap. The tech world is notoriously known for its high(er) pay compared to other industries. CEOs of some of the largest IT firms are consistently in the news, and often looked at as celebrities for their ability to afford such lavish lifestyles. It’s also worth considering the ultimate end goals of those in technology versus the government. Traditionally, IT and the Silicon Valley firms, in particular, have maintained a culture of stiff competition, hoping to develop the most cutting-edge products to create a highly profitable customer base. The federal government workforce, however, is focused largely on service to the nation. Every dollar that is spent is tracked, and the idea behind its systems is to better equip the whole of America. That may be a roadblock in mentality for obtaining the top IT talent.

Future Prospects

Even given the potential challenges to overcome, it is likely we will see at least some of those laid off throughout the tech industry showing up at a federal office in the coming months and years. The COVID-19 pandemic showed us the fragility of many markets, and the ability for so many in any industry to change their mind with what work is, how they complete it, and for whom. This may just be another unexpected ripple, but one that benefits federal agencies greatly to achieve a respected cyber posture with some of the brightest minds in IT.

Susanna Patten is a senior market insights manager for TD SYNNEX Public Sector .