Laid-Off Tech Workers Are Just What the Auto Industry Needs

January 31, 2023
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Photo by Elishia Jayye on Unsplash

Photo by Elishia Jayye on Unsplash


Thousands of tech workers were laid off by blue chip companies throughout late 2022 and early 2023. Detroit's "Big Three" may be a new haven for these wayward workers as software becomes more and more crucial in the automotive industry.

While the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is best known as an annual excuse to marvel at outlandish gadgets, Dirk Hilgenberg, head of Volkswagen AG’s software unit, came to this year’s show in early January looking for a different kind of tech product: software engineers.

The 58-year-old German auto executive turned his CES booth, a colorful stack of shipping containers, into a makeshift hiring hall with the words “JOIN US” emblazoned across the side. His unit, dubbed Cariad, has quintupled its headcount, to about 6,600, since its formation in July 2020, and Hilgenberg is hoping to hire an additional 1,700 people this year. To lure attractive candidates, he’s taken a liberal approach to remote work and made English Cariad’s de facto language—a concession for an automotive behemoth built on proud German engineering.

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