Mar 17, 2023 - Technology

Exclusive: New poll finds tech workers considering defense work amid layoffs

A briefcase covered in camouflage print, on a red background.

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Amid mounting layoffs in the tech sector, more than a third of industry workers now say they're more likely than they were a year ago to work on military projects, according to a new Morning Consult analysis shared first with Axios.

Why it matters: Continuing tech layoffs could give the Pentagon and defense contractors a fighting chance to recruit top-tier coding talent.

What they're saying: "From a recruiting standpoint, tech workers are looking for stability," Jordan Marlatt, tech analyst at Morning Consult, told Axios. "They're looking for interesting things to work on, and they're also looking for work-life balance."

Catch up quick: The tech sector has publicly shied away from discussing its work with the military in recent years amid employee backlash over the ethics of using certain technologies in combat.

By the numbers: 34% of the 441 U.S. tech workers surveyed in a Morning Consult poll said they're more likely than they were a year ago to apply their skills to military projects.

  • 38% of those workers said they like the prospect of working on interesting projects, and 33% said they're more likely to head to defense work because of "financial considerations."
  • Nearly half of all surveyed tech workers (48%) said they support their employer considering defense contracts that involve battlefield technologies.

Between the lines: Government agencies could have a better chance of recruiting tech talent if they emphasize the job stability of their positions and the new technologies they'll be able to contribute to, Sonnet Frisbie, Morning Consult's lead geopolitical risk analyst focused on Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told Axios.

  • "They should really play to applicants' interest, not just their values," Frisbie said.

Yes, but: Despite increased interest in military work, most tech workers still think the tech sector is best positioned to give them better salaries, benefits and mission-driven opportunities, according to the analysis.

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