blog post

A Caution for Traditional Tech Companies: Graduates’ Opportunities are Widening

The technology sector is currently undergoing significant shifts, with challenges such as high underemployment rates among recent graduates and substantial layoffs within traditional tech companies. Yet, within these adversities lie hidden opportunities for both graduates and employers to adapt, innovate, and excel. The imperative for technology-based organizations is to seize these opportunities, ensuring they do not lag in the competitive race.

A recent study conducted by Burning Glass Institute and Strada Institute found 52% of all 4-year college graduates were underemployed, meaning in a job that did not require their degree, one year after graduation. Unfortunately, the chances of escaping underemployment are low with 45% of graduates still underemployed 10 years post-graduation. This highlights a systemic issue that transcends temporary market fluctuations. Although computer science majors fare slightly better, the narrative remains troubling, particularly for those specializing in cybersecurity, who face an industry rife with layoffs and uncertainty

There is hope! The conventional trajectory for tech graduates, once linear and confined to specific sectors, is diversifying. Industries previously considered peripheral to technology, such as food, hospitality, and retail, are now actively recruiting tech talent for roles ranging from ecommerce managers to software engineers. This trend is not merely anecdotal; it’s quantifiable, with anticipated increases in the employment of new graduates by 9.6% in the food sector and 7.7% in retail. This significant pivot towards embedding technology across all business operations heralds a new era of career opportunities for tech graduates, challenging the status quo and expanding the horizons of what’s possible.

The juxtaposition of cutbacks in traditional tech roles, especially in cybersecurity, against the backdrop of an expanding need for tech skills across various industries, raises a critical question: How many exceptional potential employees are being overlooked, their talents untapped? The demand for a workforce skilled in cybersecurity is escalating, yet the job market’s pace fails to match this urgency. Employers who bypass the fresh wave of graduates are not just overlooking potential talent; they’re sidelining a host of strategic advantages that could propel their organizations forward.

New graduates come equipped with not just theoretical knowledge but a propensity for innovation, unconstrained by the “this is how we’ve always done it” mindset. They can offer innovative solutions and creative ideas that stem from the latest academic research and methodologies. This infusion of new perspectives is crucial for fostering innovation, driving companies to explore new technologies, products, and services that can keep them competitive.

Recent graduates are typically more adaptable. They are digital natives and have been exposed to the latest tools, programming languages, and technological trends during their education. Employers not hiring new graduates may find their workforce becoming stagnant, lacking in skills necessary to adapt to new advancements. This can hinder a company’s ability to stay ahead in the tech industry, where the rapid pace of innovation is relentless.

Investing in new graduates can also be a cost-effective recruitment strategy. Graduates typically command lower starting salaries compared to experienced hires, allowing companies to invest in their development and grow their skills aligned with business needs. By not hiring graduates, companies may find themselves in a competitive market for experienced professionals, driving up recruitment costs and potentially leading to higher turnover rates if expectations do not align.

Perhaps most importantly, failing to hire new graduates means companies risk creating gaps in their talent pipeline. Graduates not only fill immediate roles but also represent the future leadership and technical expertise within a company. As more experienced employees retire or move on, a lack of younger talent coming through the ranks can lead to significant knowledge and skills gaps, making it difficult for companies to maintain operational efficiency and innovate effectively. In critical fields like cybersecurity, such gaps are not just inconvenient—they’re potentially catastrophic.

Looking forward, the dangers of these gaps seems very real. The exponential growth of IoT devices, projected to reach tens of billions in the next few years, signifies a massive surge in data generation, necessitating advanced analytics, cybersecurity measures, and innovative management strategies. This expansion is not confined to traditional tech sectors but extends across manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, and urban development, among others. The ubiquity of IoT technologies heralds a new era where tech proficiency is indispensable across the board.

For recent graduates, particularly those with skills in cybersecurity, software development, data analysis, and network engineering, the IoT proliferation offers a plethora of opportunities. The demand for talent capable of designing, securing, and managing IoT systems is set to skyrocket, transcending traditional boundaries and infiltrating every sector of the economy. Graduates with interdisciplinary knowledge—combining technical expertise with insights into environmental, health, or urban planning issues—will find themselves at a premium.

This means graduates will have even more opportunities and options. Love the theater but don’t want to work on an actor’s salary? How about designing the software that allows shows to run with a press of a button? Really vested in making this planet healthier? Design and secure IoT systems used in precision agriculture, devices that monitor soil health, water usage, and crop conditions to optimize resource use and reduce environmental impact. Those graduates with some education, experience, and training in two areas will be able to write their ticket!

For employers, particularly those in technical fields, this means the competition for this new talent is even higher. Creating a talent pipeline that is agile and innovative will be even more important. Forward-thinking companies will prioritize the integration of fresh graduates into their talent strategy as not merely a recruitment tactic but a fundamental component of future-proofing their operations.

The tech industry’s landscape is undoubtedly challenging, yet it is filled with opportunities for both recent graduates and employers willing to adapt to the changing environment. By exploring roles in emerging industries, graduates can find new avenues for applying their skills and building rewarding careers. It will be important that cybersecurity companies don’t miss out! By not incorporating new graduates into their hiring strategy, employers miss out on a wealth of benefits. From fresh perspectives and innovation to adaptability with new technologies and building a resilient future-proof talent pipeline, the advantages of hiring recent graduates are significant. Companies that recognize and leverage the potential of new graduates position themselves for sustainable growth, enhanced innovation, and continued competitiveness in the dynamic tech landscape.


Dr. Brandy Harris

Director, Learning and Organizational Development, CyberEd

Dr. Brandy Harris, with over 20 years in education, is a distinguished leader dedicated to evolving the cybersecurity workforce. Her expertise lies in developing and evaluating cybersecurity programs. Dr. Harris holds an MS in Education, an MS in Cybersecurity, and a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership. She uses that background to actively promote diversity and inclusion in cybersecurity by fostering collaboration between industry and academia, aiming to bridge the talent gap and drive positive change.

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