IT salaries to remain strong despite downturn

22 Apr 2008

Despite the onset of a global economic slowdown, salaries in the IT and finance sectors are predicted to remain strong as the market is still driven by candidates, a HR company has claimed.

A survey by Dublin-based Hudson finds that many companies, particularly in the financial services and IT area, are taking a more creative and tailored approach to remuneration packages by building in lifestyle perks to suit the candidate.

These range from the more traditional extras like better pension plans, further education, health cover, flexi and holiday time and gym membership, to more unusual benefits like onsite creches, free bicycles to cycle to work, free housekeeping and dry cleaning services.

However, the survey warns many companies will focus more on consolidation rather than continued growth in the medium term.

The trend for IT salaries in 2008 is very much in line with 2007 figures, with increases in specific areas such as development/programming and senior executive roles in general. The market in IT is still buoyant but with skills shortages, on occasion, in Java and .Net professionals for multiple roles, hence the increase in salaries in these areas.

Again, the overall package offered is very important for those candidates considering a move and many, particularly in the more executive space, are very much focusing on the longer term benefits of working with a company in the form of share save schemes and share options.

Other methods of attracting candidates in IT include benefits such as laptops, broadband access and BlackBerry/mobile phone. Flexible working hours are also becoming more commonplace, however, there are roles that also require commitment, in terms of shift patterns, from the employee.

Location for candidates has become, in some instances, almost more important than a better paid role, which leads to more and more focus on flexible working hours from employers in accommodating a new employee who would have a long commute to work.

Working from home (or the option to do so) is also starting to become a feature of permanent roles.

For the remainder of 2008, Hudson predicts a continuation in demand for certain key skill areas in IT, with predictions of more volume IT jobs in 2009 with an upwards curve in salaries alongside.

“While salaries are important, it is obvious that to recruit and retain staff many other factors are being examined,” said Peter Cosgrove, managing director of Hudson’s Irish operation.

“Many companies are now offering performance-related bonuses where individual effort and achievement is recognised, while soft benefits include contributions to further education and training, company child-care facilities, extra holidays and technology.

“The more unusual benefits we’re coming across include free bicycles to cycle to work, housekeeping and dry cleaning pickup services as more companies follow the US model. It may only be a matter of time before dog walking is bundled in there too!

“It is also clear that the new breed of worker we call Generation Y – those born since 1980 – have a different way of looking at work and are certainly more concerned about what work can do for them as opposed to just being happy to be employed,” Cosgrave added.

“They are also interested in corporate social responsibility initiatives and ‘green’ policies in their potential employers.”

By John Kennedy