AI Is Coming for Big Tech Jobs—but Not in the Way You Think

Google, too, has funneled money into its Anthropic AI developments, and its CEO, Sindar Pichai, warned of continuous cuts throughout 2024, which began in January. That comes despite Google reporting strong growth. “We’re responsibly investing in our company’s biggest priorities and the significant opportunities ahead,” says Bailey Tomson, a Google spokesperson. In 2023 and 2024, several Google teams “made changes to become more efficient and work better,” Tomson says. “Through this, we’re simplifying our structures to give employees more opportunity to work on our most innovative and important advances and our biggest company priorities, while reducing bureaucracy and layers.”

This pivot-to-AI narrative echoes past moves by tech companies, like outsourcing workers, which led to poor working conditions for some contracted workers in other countries. “It feels less like there’s a real connection between investment in AI and trade-offs having to be made in other parts of the workforce, but really that this is a narrative shift being used to package a shift that predates the move to AI,” says Parul Koul, president of the Alphabet Workers Union-CWA, which represents some employees from the companies affected by recent layoffs. But because workers don’t receive a lot of transparency about whether their layoffs are tied to AI, it’s still hard to tie some job cuts directly to the tech, Koul says.

The next step, naturally, would be to see the AI that these companies invest in further disrupt their own workplaces. But for now, that doesn’t seem to be happening. AI-fueled layoffs are making up a small portion of job cuts across industries. More than 5,000 jobs were cut between May 2023 and April 2024 where companies cited AI as the reason—but this was either due to companies shifting focus to developing AI tech or because they used AI tools to take over tasks and roles, according to a report from outplacement services firm Challenger, Gray, and Christmas.

In the tech world alone, there have been nearly 100,000 layoffs in 2024, according to, a site that tracks job cuts in the tech industry. Still, specific types of jobs are beginning to bounce back. Openings for AI roles or those that require AI skills made up 12 percent of all tech job offerings in May—the largest percentage in six years—according to CompTIA, a nonprofit trade association for the US IT industry. But AI doesn’t exist in a silo, says Tim Herbert, CompTIA’s chief research officer, and its adoption will likely create adjacent jobs needed to support the new technology. “AI will probably spur investment in other areas,” he says.

The AI reshuffle may not be the great AI takeover, but if AI is the next big opportunity for companies like Alphabet, the lack of efforts to up-skill and train employees to work in those divisions is troubling, Koul says. “There are ways in which the existing workforce can be kept whole or treated with dignity and respect through this process,” Koul says. “A lot of my coworkers, a lot of our union members, work here because they are mission-driven, they believe in the utility of the products they are working on. More opportunities for retraining and moving people to other divisions would be very welcome.”

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