AI is one factor for tech layoffs, but not the only one

  • AI adoption in the tech industry often leads to automation of repetitive tasks and processes, resulting in reduced manpower requirements.
  • The rapid evolution of AI technologies creates a skills gap in the workforce, as employees may lack the necessary expertise to leverage AI effectively.
  • While AI can drive efficiencies and cost savings, not all layoffs in the tech sector can be attributed to AI adoption.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a force in the tech industry, changing how companies operate and innovate. However, alongside its promise of increased efficiency and productivity, AI adoption has also raised concerns about its impact on employment. While it’s undeniable that AI plays a role in some tech layoffs, the relationship between AI and job displacement is nuanced and multifaceted.

The impact of AI on tech layoffs

AI-driven automation is one of the primary drivers of tech layoffs. Companies across various sectors, including manufacturing, retail, and customer service, have deployed AI technologies to automate repetitive tasks and streamline operations. According to an Ernst & Young report published on April 29, a survey of 255 American tech industry executives conducted in March revealed that 50% of them expect a mix of layoffs and recruitment over the next six months due to the integration of AI technology.

As AI technologies become more prevalent, there is a growing demand for workers with AI-related skills such as data science, machine learning, and natural language processing. However, many employees may lack these skills, leading to job displacement in roles that can be automated by AI. And 61% of leaders said emerging technology has made it more challenging to find top tech talent.

“One thing is certain: Companies are reshaping their workforce to be more AI savvy. With this transition, we can anticipate a continuous cycle of strategic workforce realignment, characterised by simultaneous layoffs and hiring, and not necessarily in equal volumes,” Vamsi Duvvuri, EY’s technology, media and telecommunications AI leader, said in a statement.

Also read: AI: The opportunities and the threats

While AI adoption can drive efficiencies and cost savings, not all tech layoffs can be attributed to AI. In some cases, layoffs may result from broader strategic decisions made by companies in response to market dynamics or internal restructuring.

Duolingo’s recent layoffs, affecting around 10% of its contractor workforce, have raised questions about AI’s role in the decision-making process. While AI adoption played a part, the company clarified that various factors, such as project completions and shifts in course development priorities, contributed to the adjustments. Klinton Bicknell, Duolingo’s head of AI, highlighted AI’s dual impact on jobs, noting its role in enhancing language learning while also creating new opportunities, particularly in AI research.

Other factors contributing to tech layoffs

Restructuring and strategic shifts

Amid evolving market trends and technological advancements, many tech companies are undergoing internal restructuring to realign their business priorities. This strategic realignment often involves assessing the viability of various departments or projects, which may result in layoffs to streamline operations and enhance efficiency. For instance, the German software giant SAP recently announced a restructuring plan affecting over 7% of its workforce, aiming to accelerate growth through AI and cloud-centric strategies. Similarly, Expedia Group streamlined its cost structure by laying off 1,500 employees, reflecting a broader trend of companies adapting to changing market dynamics through organisational restructuring.

Also read: Reasons behind mass layoffs at tech companies

Economic uncertainty

The prevailing economic uncertainty, fueled by concerns of a looming recession and declining tech stock prices, has made investors increasingly cautious. In response, companies are adopting a more conservative approach to cost management, leading to layoffs as a means of reducing expenses and preserving profitability. Cisco’s decision to lay off 5% of its workforce serves as a notable example of this trend, driven by an uncertain business environment and sluggish demand in the telecommunications sector. As companies navigate through uncertain economic conditions, workforce optimisation becomes a key strategy for maintaining financial resilience and sustainability.

Improving financial performance

Layoffs can directly impact a company’s financial performance by reducing payroll expenses and improving operational efficiency. In an increasingly competitive market landscape, organisations are under pressure to optimise their cost structures and enhance profitability. By implementing strategic workforce reductions, companies can reallocate resources towards high-priority initiatives and invest in growth opportunities.


Lydia Luo

Lydia Luo, an intern reporter at BTW media dedicated in IT infrastructure. She graduated from Shanghai University of International Business and Economics. Send tips to

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