Business Standard

Pick tech over finance: Street's career advice to highschoolers

A recent Goldman Sachs Group Inc. report estimated that some 300 million full-time jobs worldwide may soon be affected by AI automation

career

Retail investors were slightly more enthusiastic about the heath care- it was a top pick for 41 per cent. Among professional investors, 38 per cent chose medical services

Bloomberg

Listen to This Article

Graduating high school students will be best off pursuing a career in tech rather than finance, investors said.

For soon-to-be adults, tech is the smartest route despite recent layoffs at Meta, Amazon, and Alphabet, the latest MLIV Pulse survey with 678 respondents suggests. Tech savvy is seen as ever more important in a world increasingly influenced by digital platforms and artificial intelligence.

“The highest paying jobs were so clearly in the finance sector for two or three decades, and now tech is really competitive with that — they’re kind of neck and neck,” said Andrew Challenger, senior vice president of human-resources consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Even with the rise of AI he expects tech and finance to remain among the most lucrative careers for the next 20 or 30 years. “I don’t see that going away,” he said.

Some 52 per cent of 556 professional investors said that technology is the way to go for high school students. Among 122 retail investors, 48 per cent voted for tech.

Recent hiring trends support the results. While the current downturn has hit both Big Tech and Silicon Valley start-ups hard, recruiters in traditional industries — from automakers to the federal government — have rushed to snap up laid-off tech talent and new grads. These days, every company is a tech company, as the saying goes.

Part of the perception that the grass is greener in Silicon Valley may also stem from the way that tech has transformed the inner workings of Wall Street. “There are lots of people that have brilliant financial minds, and yet they can’t put into effect a trading strategy without relying on serious programmers to come in and actually implement it because it's moved past human beings in some ways,” Challenger said. “I can see why they feel that threat.”

Investors have a different recommendation for kids graduating from kindergarten this year. Nearly 40 per cent of respondents said those children will be best off with a career in health care. Jobs in the medical fields often involve much more human-to-human interaction, which many believe AI is unlikely to ever fully replace.

Retail investors were slightly more enthusiastic about the heath care- it was a top pick for 41 per cent. Among professional investors, 38 per cent chose medical services.

A recent Goldman Sachs Group Inc. report estimated that some 300 million full-time jobs worldwide may soon be affected by AI automation.

Demographic trends may also be supporting the idea that becoming a doctor or a nurse will be a wiser choice for the youngest generation: Economists forecast massive demand for health-care workers as the population ages in the US and around the world.

As for the potential impact of AI on Wall Street, only 12 per cent said finance would be the best career option for today’s kindergarteners. While a previous MLIV Pulse survey found that most finance professionals were confident AI won’t replace them in the next three years, that confidence appears to falter over a longer time horizon.

Significant layoffs as UBS Group AG absorbs Credit Suisse Group AG, combined with earlier job-cut announcements from Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs also likely affected the views of the respondents. The KBW Bank Index is down about 18 per cent year-to-date compared to the S&P 500 up over 7 per cent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 is up about 20 per cent.

First-quarter bank earnings kicked off Friday as JPMorgan Chase & Co, Citigroup Inc and Wells Fargo & Co reeled in windfalls from higher interest rates that upended smaller lenders last month. But even the big lenders signaled caution, including on the hiring front. While JPMorgan hired more people, the bank plans to keep headcount flat over the rest of the year and expressed caution regarding more buybacks.

Challenger agreed. “I’d say understand tech deeply — and something else,” like finance. “If you can be the bridge between worlds, that is a rare and extremely valuable skill.” Most survey respondents said an undergraduate degree is still worthwhile, despite the considerable investment of time and money. Still, some suggested that going to trade school to become a carpenter, electrician or plumber, jobs which can’t be easily outsourced or automated, might be a path worth pursuing.
what they say...
  • Tech smartest route despite recent layoffs at Meta, Amazon, and Alphabet
  • 52% of 556 professional investors said that technology is the way to go
  • Recruiters in traditional industries snap up laid-off tech talent and new grads
  • Part of the perception stems from the way tech has transformed Wall Street
  • Goldman Sachs report estimated 300 mn jobs worldwide will be affected by automation

Don't miss the most important news and views of the day. Get them on our Telegram channel

First Published: Apr 18 2023 | 12:27 AM IST

Explore News