Quantum Tech Sector Hiring Stays Soft

By John Russell

June 13, 2024

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with comment from QED-C executive director Celia Merzbacher further explaining the data and noting that many companies still report being unable to hit their hiring goals.

New job announcements in the quantum tech sector declined again last month, according to an Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED-C) report issued last week.

“Globally, the number of new, public postings for Quantum Technology jobs decreased by 16.9% compared to the number of new jobs in April. Europe-based organizations experienced a decline of 25.9%, while North American organizations declined by 17.9%. This slide in activity is in its third consecutive month. In May, the global monthly activity was just 39.2% of the same in February 2024,” reported QED-C in a blog.

Table: month/month change in the number of newly-documented, job postings.

REPORTING MONTH: May 2024
GLOBAL: -16.9%
EUROPE: -25.9%
NORTH AMERICA: -17.9%
REST OF WORLD:  -45.2%

PRIOR MONTH: April 2024
GLOBAL: -22.5%
EUROPE: -23.0%
NORTH AMERICA: -14.7%
REST OF WORLD: -44.7%

Blips and seasonal variations are perhaps part of the normal cycle. Two analysts suggest caution in making too much out of the reports:

  • Heather West, research manager, Quantum Computing Infrastructure Systems, Platforms, and Technology, IDC noted, “Without any context, it’s hard to determine if this is a concerning trend or a blip on the radar. It’s interesting that there aren’t comparable numbers for similar tech labor trends or even the life sciences/pharma industries. It also doesn’t mention if the postings that are currently available are new postings or postings that have been available for a period of time which haven’t been filled. I think it’s really hard to deduce anything without more information.”
  • Bob Sorensen, SVP of research and chief quantum analyst, Hyperion Research, said “These numbers concentrate on QC supplier employment figures and do not actively track hiring practices within the QC end user community. I would be interesting to see what hiring trends are for end user organizations seeking to bring QC capabilities in-house and how aggressively they are working to build internal expertise. Or perhaps, the quantum ‘research’ community may have started to level off as many QC companies start to transition into a development or even production environment, so their hiring emphasis may be shifting towards requirements for classical hardware and software engineers, etc. Indeed, these trends may simply may show that the research complement of many QC organizations have reached their full staffing levels and that addition hiring will go to other non-QC PhD-requiring jobs and towards more quotidian computer design and manufacturing jobs. In some sense, that could be a leading indicator that, at least for some, the QC sector is starting to mature toward a more utility-class production vs an R&D environment.”

[Update 6/18:] QED-C executive director Celia Merzbacher told HPCwire the lack of qualified candidates was also a significant factor in quantum hiring practices:

“The data collected for the Quantum Technology Workforce Monitoring Report are newly published job listings appearing in the given month. The daily collection process is consistent from day to day, so the month-over-month, relative ratios are useful and provide valid insight into the phenomenon. This data accounts for jobs advertised by any organization in the value chain, from suppliers to end-users.  A job listing is counted if that job would not exist if quantum “technology” did not exist. For example, a quantum tech start-up consists of jobs across the board, from Hands-on Engineers to Assistants to the CEO; these are all counted.  Moreover, for large international organization job listings, only those jobs in the Quantum Tech department are counted,” said Merzbacher.

“The Workforce Monitoring Report data trends do seem to reflect what we are hearing directly from our member companies. While not linked to the report, at the beginning of 2024, QED-C completed a survey of its member companies aimed at understanding current hiring trends and challenges. Out of the 22 companies that responded with a hiring goal, almost 60 percent said they did not meet that goal by the end of the year. And when they did manage to hire, almost 80 percent said that it took between two and six months to fill an open position and 16 percent said it took up to a year. According to respondents in 2024, the largest barriers to hiring quantum talent include the following.

  • Lack of candidates with required/desired qualifications (61 percent of survey respondents)
  • Lack of candidates with the right to work in the U.S. (39 percent)
  • The amount of time required to get a visa (22 percent)

“67 percent of respondents agreed that it has become more difficult to recruit qualified quantum workers in the past year, and 92 percent agreed that there is a shortage of U.S. citizens and permanent residents with quantum qualifications. About 45 percent of the workers hired in the past year were recent graduates,” said Merzbacher.

The information provided by the Quantum Technology Workforce Monitor Report is “based on data collected on individual job opening announcements publicly offered by organizations operating in the quantum technology ecosystem. The Report is published monthly on the QED-C Blog webpages. The next release of the monthly report will be available on July 2, 2024.”

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