Will tech company layoffs spread to higher ed? | In higher ed

Facebook’s parent company, Meta, is laying off 13,000 workers. Twitter is laying off half of its 7,500 employees. Education technology (edtech) companies 2U, Byju, MasterClass, SkillShare, Eruditus and others have reported significant layoffs, according to layofftracker.com.

People at the top might think we’ve been ostracized by the contagion of layoffs spreading to our camp. We are not.

It is very easy to come up with scenarios where many colleges and universities would go into decline in order to remain financially viable. The post-pandemic slump may not reverse. High inflation and low unemployment are big incentives for working adults to take on debt for graduate school. Labor costs, which comprise the majority of every university’s budget, continue to grow rapidly. And many universities are struggling to cope with the twin winds of demographics and shrinking public funding, meaning areas that have sought to bring in revenue to curb new online degree and non-degree programs are seeing steep declines in student acquisition costs. Revenue compared to last two years.

The key word is “could” since universities have yet to announce the magnitude of layoffs we’ve seen so far during the Great Recession of 2007-2009 or the collapse of the dot-com bubble in the early 2000s. Recent endowment returns have been middling, but these losses come after a few years of impressive gains. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2022/11/08/endowment-returns-drop-ac… The United States could fall into recession in the coming months, a devastating development that is paradoxically important to prevent. -Cycle industries as higher education.

So we avoid the fate of technology, and large-scale layoffs do not come to our institutions. Let’s hope. But now is the time to prepare ourselves for a wave of university suppression should they happen upon our shores, just as hope does for a weak career strategy.

What are some things that those of us who don’t have tenure protection can do to prepare ourselves for university layoffs? Three thoughts:

1 – Be careful in hiring;

Not everyone in higher education has much say in the decision to bring in new colleagues. For those in management and leadership roles, however, some caution in hiring decisions may be prudent at this time, knowing that large-scale strikes have peaked in the past and are likely to occur again. As a leader or manager, one of your top concerns is avoiding layoffs. Downsizing can seriously affect the culture, function and productivity of universities. We are institutions built on trust. To be successful, university staff must do a million and one things that no one else sees or knows about. There should be a feeling that the institution has invested in the people just as the people have invested in the institution. Getting fired kills that trust.

Here, I am anxious to advise recruitment caution as universities are suffering from an epidemic of understaffing. https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/learning-innovation/higher-ed%E2%80… These days, there are very few people doing much work on our campuses. This fact of higher labor shortages may be the flip side of the technology boom epidemic. So any slowdown in higher ed hiring will exacerbate the overwork and burnout many university people feel. Still, at this time, I think the caution of the workers is important.

2 – Promise to protect people’s work;

Again, this is an institutional – or division or unit – type of strategy, but it’s one that people working in higher education can follow. These people are again university leaders and administrators. If they come, it is the university leaders and administrators who must implement the dismissal. And if those layoffs are high enough, they stem primarily from forces beyond our direct control. (such as high inflation, low unemployment, rising labor and health care costs, declining public funding, demographically and economically declining student enrollment, etc.). What university leaders can do now is decide that if it does come, the institution will do everything (and I mean everything) to avoid layoffs. Make a commitment now, and step back to plan how to fulfill that commitment.

Layoffs are not the time to explore anti-union strategies. The best time is when things are still (shaken). One idea is to work toward a community consensus that reducing shared pain is preferable. If the choice is to cut 10% of the highest paid employees in a school or lay off the most vulnerable 10% of employees, those lucky and highly paid employees may already agree that this is a reasonable trade-off. . Those in charge of university budgets should look at what can be cut before people leave. With most of the money we spend at universities outside of compensation (salary + benefits), it’s challenging to figure out how to save money. Still, there are things we can reluctantly give up if we’re avoiding layoffs.

3 – Be ready to find another job

The statement that we should be ready to look for another job seems bold and a little foolish. No one wants to blame the victims of the dismissal should come to a higher level. Highly skilled workers have complicated lives with partners, children, and family members embedded in the communities in which they work. Few of us can easily move our families away from places where jobs are available and jobs are disappearing.

Again, he was forewarned. Knowing that the strikes we see now with technology can reach a higher level should motivate us all to think about our plans b. How much emergency savings can you accumulate, meaning what reasonable expenses can you avoid? What are your freelance and consulting opportunities if your full-time gig is gone? Have you maintained connections, networks, and connections with colleagues at other schools who may know you when jobs are posted? Is your resume/CV up to date?

Reading the news about tech layoffs should prompt those of us in higher education to have an open conversation about how we can avoid what’s going on in tech. Being clear about the industries we don’t want and don’t want to emulate is responsible.

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