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Where Will Laid-Off Qualcomm Workers Land?

Where Will Laid-Off Qualcomm Workers Land?
Qualcomm handed out layoff notices to 1,314 full-time local employees this week. But industry groups believe those losing their jobs may still be able to find work in San Diego.

Qualcomm began following through on plans to shed about 15 percent of its workforce this week, handing out layoff notices to 1,314 full-time employees in San Diego.

Cuts at the region's largest tech employer run deep, but local industry groups believe those losing high-paying jobs at Qualcomm may still be able to find work in San Diego.


"We're confident that we'll be able to absorb those people," said Michael Combs, research manager at the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation.

Combs points to the latest local jobs report released Friday by Manpower San Diego. It shows the tech sector grew in August, and created about 9,200 new jobs over the past year.

"We think there are companies that are actually excited about being able to have some of that great talent from Qualcomm," said Combs. The EDC says it's working to connect employees leaving Qualcomm with other local companies looking to hire, including Cubic, iboss and Illumina.

Others hope workers pushed out of Qualcomm go on to start their own businesses. Rory Moore, CEO of the local startup incubator EvoNexus, says the damage to San Diego's economy may be overestimated.

"It will spread engineering talent around San Diego," Moore said. He'd like to see some of those workers "step up and do what they've been thinking about doing: starting their own company."


Those seeking more traditional jobs may look to smaller firms, says Greg McKee, CEO of the local industry group CONNECT.

"There isn't exactly another Qualcomm right here for them to go to," said McKee. He says 446 tech and life sciences companies were created in San Diego last year, a record high for startup growth in the region.

Laid-off workers also may choose to send resumes to one of Qualcomm's direct competitors.

The Taiwanese company MediaTek has been moving into Qualcomm's turf. This week, MediaTek successfully placed its chips in Amazon Fire TV devices that used to feature Qualcomm components. MediaTek also opened an office near Qualcomm's Sorrento Valley headquarters last year.

"Other companies are beginning to manufacture their own chips," said McKee. "If MediaTek are in a position to hire staff that has been let go by Qualcomm, I think that's generally a good thing."

Qualcomm gave workers, being laid off, sixty days notice. Their last days at the company will come in November.