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From sizzle to fizzle: here’s where tech hiring has dropped in Europe

Data shows the number of open tech job positions has significantly declined across Europe since the start of 2022

By Miriam Partington in Berlin

Judith Tripard, head of people at Oh Bibi

Across Europe, the number of open job positions at startups is down 43% since the beginning of February, according to data from global venture capital firm NGP Capital. 

The report — which analysed 3,612 privately-owned and VC-backed startups in Europe — found that the number of open job opportunities in Europe peaked in February and has declined significantly since then, as more companies are finding fundraising more difficult and laying off staff. The data went through the week ending June 19. 

The report also showed that consumer-focused B2C startups have been most affected by the economic slowdown, with hiring down by 50% — compared to B2B startups, where hiring is down by 35%.

But it’s not all negative. France’s job market has held more firm than any other country in Europe, with only a 9% decrease in the number of open positions. 

Why have French startups fared better… so far?

Judith Tripard, head of people at Oh BiBi, a Paris-based mobile game studio, says there are a number of reasons why France’s job market may seem more resilient than those of other European countries.

For one thing, French startups have had a strong start to 2022 in terms of funding, with €8.8bn of VC capital raised since the start of the year, according to Dealroom data. 

“French investors seem to remain confident that we do not yet have this lack of capital like in the US,” says Tripard, adding that the market is “still pretty strong.”

She points to the fact that 20 deals of more than €100m make up half of total fundraising in 2022 so far, showing that “the crisis does not necessarily affect the most mature startups: those with excellent ARR (annual recurring revenue), controlled costs and strong growth.”

Speaking more generally, Tripard speculates that the number of open job positions remains high in France beyond just startups, because there’s a “strong demand” from larger companies in more traditional sectors recruiting tech profiles, and the nation has a shortage of domestic technical talent. 

In the wider French labour market, unemployment is still low despite a rocky market. In the first quarter of 2022, the unemployment rate in France stood at 7.3% of the active population, its lowest rate in 14 years.

“French investors seem to remain confident that we do not yet have this lack of capital like in the US.”

Mass tech company layoffs in Europe

Germany’s job market has suffered the steepest decline in open job vacancies since the start of 2022 — possibly due to the fact that it has a high number of consumer unicorns that have had to let go of hundreds of employees, like Gorillas.

Investors say that delivery companies were the most aggressive with hiring last year and have now had to make steep cuts, which could account for a big percentage shift. 

And, generally, investors agree that startups with high cash burn and capital-intensive business models are the ones that will have to adapt the most in the current economic climate. 

Germany also had a slow start to the year in terms of funding. That’s possibly due to the economic crisis caused by energy supply problems, which is why companies might be more conservative with hiring, speculates Laetitia Vitaud, an HR professional who has written about the labour market in Germany, France and the UK.

Another thing to consider is just how quickly each market is responding to macroeconomic changes. Germany’s job market may have flopped early on, but France could face a similar crisis further down the line, says Oh BiBi’s Tripard. 

“Hiring freezes and layoffs are happening in France currently, but clearly without any major impact on the market, which remains robust. And in France, layoffs take time,” she says.

In comparison to other European countries, it’s harder to fire employees in France as there are a number of protections put in place for workers.

“The procedure for a big layoff depends on the number of employees to be dismissed, the number of employees in the company and the existence or not of staff representatives,” says Tripard. “Depending on all this, [layoffs] can take a few months.”

Miriam Partington is Sifted’s DACH correspondent. She also covers future of work, coauthors Sifted’s Startup Life newsletter and tweets from @mparts_

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