Heavy Equipment Manufacturers Try to Lure New Tech Talent

Deere's new tech hub looks more like a startup with a game room and unlimited beer.

The recent job cuts in Silicon Valley have been significant. In just the last few weeks, Amazon, Microsoft and Google contributed to the more than 51,000 layoffs out of the tech hub. The cuts come after a period of significant growth during the pandemic, but now the industry is contracting. According to layoffs.fyi, more than 200,000 tech workers have lost their jobs since the beginning of 2022.

But where some see adversity, others see opportunity, particularly in manufacturing and industrial sectors. For example, in November 2022, as tech layoffs ramped up, British automaker Jaguar Land Rover launched a new job portal targeting the newly jobless. The company had some 800 jobs it needed to fill in advanced technology positions, like machine learning and self-driving systems. 

The electrification of vehicles has created a high demand for the tech-savvy, and now, execs from large agricultural and construction equipment makers based in the Midwest are on a mission to snatch up the talent. 

According to Reuters, Deere & Co. are among a few other companies looking to land tech workers as the industry evolves into autonomous tractors, mining vehicles and other smart farming products. 

While some companies have been reigning in remote workers, these are not only offering remote work but also opening new offices in Austin and Chicago, which might be more attractive to workers who don't want to be tied to a small town. 

For example, Deere recently opened a tech hub in Chicago that looks more like a tech startup than an ag manufacturer. The new location has standing desks, a game room, unlimited snacks and unlimited beer.

According to Reuters, CNH International hired some 350 engineers last year, including talent from Amazon and Microsoft, to work on the multinational company's construction and agriculture equipment. The ag industry wasn't even on the radar for many of these workers. 

Caterpillar is another major manufacturer looking to boost its ranks in machine learning, computer science and software engineering. Caterpillar and Deere exhibited at CES this year, looking for new talent. 

Displaced tech workers could provide a long-overdue talent infusion to help big equipment manufacturers move further into automation and AI.

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