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Demand for software experts pushes tech salaries higher in UK

One in six ditching job offer from employers low-balling on pay

Despite a flatlining UK economy, and recessionary clouds gathering, in the tech sector the competition for skilled staff remains intense, even as software job openings reportedly dip on a global scale.

Computer coders and software developers are "still finding that it's still a jobseeker's market, with employers offering a range of generous perks and benefits in a bid to attract the best candidates," according to tech recruitment platform CodinGame, although it noted that across the rest of the job market "the job creation boom is fizzling fast. The number of job vacancies has now fallen for two months in a row as many employers rethink their hiring plans."

Money talks

While recruiters at CodinGame noted many employers are finding that "simply offering more money will no longer cut it," it remains a really important part of the picture, with Euro tech recruitment platform hackajob saying one in six candidates in the UK had ditched an offer in the past year after being lowballed for pay.

"If they think a prospective company is being tight-fisted, they may begin to imagine what else the company could be ungenerous with," noted the recruiter, which uses AI to match candidates with companies based solely on their skillset.

According to hackajob, starting pay for software engineers is 64 percent above the national average – ranging from £25,000 (c $29,200) for those in their very early career to a salary of £137,000 (c $160,45) before bonuses and shares on the upper end. The battle for the best people also meant 46 percent of candidates turned down offers because they had already accepted other roles, it said.

This is still much lower than average starting salaries in the US, where jobs board Indeed reports that entry level devs make on average $63,555 per year.

Meanwhile, recent findings from tech analyst Forrester found that despite inflation hitting a 40-year high and expected recessions, growth in enterprise software spending is expected to continue at a steady 12 percent.

A passage to India

Other trends hackajob noted in its annual report of job trends in the UK included rising salaries as demand is outstripping supply; jobseekers swerving startups for the security of an established enterprise; and that India is the current top location for sourcing female tech talent in the UK.

It said it expected to see UK technology salaries continuing to rise in 2023 as demand keeps outstripping supply.

The picture looks a little different globally. Analysts at RBC Capital Markets, which brings out monthly reports on software job postings, last week said that there had been 23 consecutive weeks of declines in developer job openings across the world.

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said last week that the tech giant would likely slow the rate at which it's hiring staff, while Snap CEO Evan Spiegel last month reportedly wrote to staffers to tell them one in five would be laid off. Google and Microsoft also appear to have instituted slowdowns in hiring as the threat of recession looms, with Redmond apparently closing unfilled job openings in cloud and security.

In the UK, as in the rest of the world, the gender divide in the tech sector is still very pronounced, the hackajob report said. More than twice as many men as women are "being offered and accepting roles." However, according to the report, UK tech orgs are working harder to hire more diversely, including searching further afield for female tech talent. India was the only country to appear as one of the top locations to hire women techies, while male tech talent was overwhelmingly hired solely in the UK, it noted. The hunt for hiring more women in tech has caused an increase in visa sponsorship for the subcontinent, it noted.

Over the past decade, the amount of employees working in computer programming in the UK has doubled from 209,000 to 418,000, although other industries have not seen anywhere near as much growth. Java and C# top the list of programming languages with the highest amount of jobs offered in the country – broadly in line with the rest of the world – with Go "slowly gaining popularity."

Over 40 percent of UK techies using hackajob's platform were hired in London, it added. Startups are having a more difficult time hiring, it said, with only 3 percent of placements being made by a company this size, compared to over 50 of successful placements  for enterprise-level companies. The recruiter said this was partly "due to the perceived stability of a larger corporation in a cost-of-living crisis."

In 2022, remote or hybrid roles (17.2 percent) are the second most sought-after "location" to hire tech candidates after London (32 percent). Both venues are more popular than Manchester or Leeds.

Secret salary squirrels

Meanwhile, jobseekers everywhere have asked that companies post salary ranges instead of acting as if they're a closely guarded secret, with California recently passing a bill requiring salary ranges on job listings. More and more, candidates are publicly calling out firms on social media platforms for keeping compensation information out of job ads, seemingly in the hopes some will accept a salary that's so low they won't publicly associate their brands with it. From August this year, a European Union directive has required all companies posting job openings to show a salary range either in the vacancy notice or to the candidate on demand. They also have the right to ask for average pay levels for workers doing the same work. Food for thought. ®

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