IT salaries up in UK, says survey

The results of silicon.com's fifth annual skills survey are in and a first look at the headline figures shows both good and bad news for the UK's IT workforce
Written by Tony Hallett, Contributor

The silicon.com annual skills survey, with 4,000 respondents, is one of the biggest of its kind in Europe. Every year the headline figure is the proportion of respondents who say their organisation has vacancies in its IT department that it can't fill. Over the past 12 months the percentage has declined, for a fourth straight year.

This year, 12.4 percent of respondents say there are unfilled positions, down from 17.5 percent last year and 39 percent the year before that -- a sign perhaps that the skills gap is shrinking or that companies simply have fewer positions available as recruitment freezes take effect.

Indeed, it's clear that the boom years for IT are in the past -- but the slowing growth rates aren't as precipitous as they were a year or two ago. We may be reaching the bottom of the hockey stick-shaped graph, as they'd probably say in Silicon Valley.

But there are at least two headline pieces of good news for IT professionals of almost any level working in the UK. First, salaries have increased -- not by much, admittedly, but they have at least kept up with inflation, when averaged out.

Second, the UK remains a better place to ply your trade -- in pure monetary terms -- than Germany or France. Last year UK salaries were found to be markedly higher but German pros, in particular, were putting in fewer hours each week. This year the Germans and French are working longer. The downturn has been biting everywhere but harder working hasn't meant more money on the continent.

There are other broad changes that silicon.com will be analysing more closely over the coming days. Compared to last year, the number of respondents who consider themselves 'happy permies' (have a permanent job and want to stay permanent) has gone up 10 percent. Meanwhile, the 'happy contractor' category (contracting and wanting to stay that way) has fallen a whopping 36 percent.

In terms of specific skills, there is less demand across the board -- another sign of that shrinking skills gap/recession-struck industry phenomenon -- with one exception: Linux.

In terms of places of work, the results show every other region apart from London and the South East on the up, with the exceptions of Northern Ireland and 'non-UK', where 9.2 percent of this survey's respondents place themselves.

This may be related to wider economic factors, including house prices. Companies may also be moving out of London to avoid high office space costs.

And finally, silicon.com also found -- perhaps unsurprisingly -- that public sector areas such as government, healthcare and education have seen an influx of IT workers, whereas finance/banking and media/publishing, for example, have seen big declines. That too is a good indicator of the state of the market: private companies are feeling the pinch, but relatively recession-proof areas such as central and local government are enjoying a rise in IT budgets.

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