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Salaries: The tech talent market in the UK and Ireland

Earlier this year, Computer Weekly released its annual salary survey for those working in technology in the UK and Ireland. As RedCat has recently produced an infographic illustrating some statistics of the Front-End Development market, alongside consultant Jack Prior’s commentary, now seems like as good a time as any to discuss tech salaries in the UK.

The results of the Computer Weekly survey show how salaries have changed for those in the industry in the last year, as well as developments in other areas such as benefits, diversity and the impact of Brexit.

Starting with pay, it found that the average salary for IT workers in the UK is £81,116, a rise of more than a quarter from what the average tech worker earned in 2016, when the survey reported an average salary of £64,590.

That result may have been skewed somewhat by the inclusion of executive roles in the survey; it noted that experience combined with seniority makes for a serious paycheck – those in an executive vice-president, senior vice-president, vice-president or associate vice-president position with more than 30 years of experience had a whopping average salary of £204,142.

Nonetheless, the study does show that salaries are healthy for all ranges of seniority. Salaries for architects, for instance, reached an average of nearly £75,000.

Why people move

The study looks into what motivates people to move from their existing job. 45% of IT professionals, according to the study, are not “actively looking” for new jobs, but are open to opportunities.

For what the study calls the “general IT worker”, the main motivation to move jobs is salary – perhaps understandable given that this is the lowest paying area that the study looks at. For those higher up the food chain, things like a better commute, a nicer office or flexibility matter more: half of those in the executive group said that work-life balance is an important consideration for them, perhaps understandably given that these people are likely to be older and have families.

When it comes to the client side, the study highlights the fact that there is a significant talent gap, with a majority of firms saying that they forecast a skills shortage next year. That’s particularly true, it says, in areas like data science and cybersecurity, where demand is high and supply is low. Predictably, in these areas, salaries are increasing at a higher rate than the rest of the market.

What people like

As well as the aforementioned preferences such as flexibility and a better commute, a major motivation for many IT workers is also learning new skills, the study says. There has also been a focus on mental health this year, the study says, in a response to calls for an improvement in this area.

But more than anything else, the respondents said they wanted to see an increasingly diverse workplace. The study found that 40% of the IT pros surveyed were not aware of any diversity projects in their workplace. The most pressing equality issues are gender, followed by ethnicity and age, the study says.

While nearly half of enterprises said they are making an effort to improve diversity issues, nearly two thirds of respondents said that they thought levelling out the numbers of men and women in IT would go some way towards solving the skills shortage, especially in the area of cybersecurity. And executives (perhaps understandably) seemed especially aware of this, with 77% agreeing with that sentiment.

And coming back to benefits, some of the results show that the basics are still what matters most – the opportunity to work remotely and to be flexible with hours was much more important in people’s responses than, for instance, work nights out.

‘The candidate controls the market’

What this reinforces is the power of the employee, rather than necessarily the employer. In a market where skills are lacking and demand is higher than ever, people necessarily have the ability to move around if they don’t believe they’re being appropriately remunerated, or that their work-life balance isn’t right, or that they aren’t learning anything new.

And, mirroring the findings of the RedCat research, it also shows that pay is on the up. It is, therefore, a tough market for employers looking for fresh talent – it is likely to be expensive. But the emphasis on flexibility also shows that doing some simple things like improving work-life balance will also engender goodwill from IT professionals; so it needn’t all be about money.

Nonetheless, as RedCat consultant Jack Prior writes, it is the candidate who controls the market.

Salaries: Front-End Market Overview
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