While the Irish workforce in general has experienced countless cutbacks, salaries in the IT industry have managed to remain quite stable.
Today’s working world has become an incredibly challenging area to both break into and progress through. Ireland’s economic strife has slowed down the recruitment cycle, impacting on both those applying for positions and those currently in the workforce.
Companies can afford to be selective when hiring, meaning that along with high unemployment levels, competition has sharply increased for jobs. The slowdown of recruitment has also put a lot of pressure on many employees, as they struggle with the increased workloads that the cutbacks in the workforce have created.
With such a strain on the market, most workers are simply glad they have a job and many have put aims of a higher salary and greater benefits aside until times get better.
But, while the general working world has been stretched almost to its limits, according to an Ireland salary survey from recruitment firm Robert Walters, the IT industry remained more buoyant than other sectors in 2010. In fact, certain areas did quite well, particularly in the games industry.
Many technology companies that have committed to Ireland in 2009 and 2010 have strong growth plans for 2011, maintaining the stability of the IT industry.
"I see that the technology industry has not been affected by cutbacks," says Grainne Bagnall, manager of the IT desk at recruitment consultancy Morgan McKinley.
"The demand is there to re-engage and redeploy resources into areas that were cut back in the recession and that need to be re-employed into those roles."
Salaries were quite steady across the industry for 2010 and will stay at this level for 2011, according to the report from Robert Walters.
Leanne Nettleship, manager of the IT and contract division at Robert Walters Ireland, says that while the majority of salaries have stayed as they are in the IT industry over the past two years, some positions have experienced pay rises.
"In certain circumstances where the hiring manager is seeking a senior candidate with a specialist skill set, we have witnessed an increase of up to 10pc of salary in comparison to last year," she says.
The Robert Walters report highlighted the fact that developers in Java and .Net managed to command these increases when moving roles.
Bagnall has also witnessed the growth and demand for mid- to senior-level developers in these specialities.
"Salaries are becoming competitive as there’s a limited supply of these excellent professionals," she explains.
"Clients want to seek out the best in the field and therefore need to be realistic, that the salary has to be competitive to what salaries these people are currently on."
The report showed that, throughout 2010, there was strong demand for business analysts, software developers, data analysts and candidates with cloud computing and social networking expertise.
While the IT industry has generally kept salaries quite steady, Bagnall says Morgan McKinley has seen that its clients are beginning to look at bonus reviews and benefits again, with this not having been experienced in the last two years.
Even though a competitive salary is an extremely important factor in attracting employees, aspects such as benefits can have a huge impact, as well, maintains Nettleship.
"What we have witnessed in the challenging market of recent years is greater importance being placed upon ancillary benefits, such as healthcare, pension contributions and study leave. Internal training is also extremely important as is career progression.
"As a result of the downturn, it has become difficult to financially reward top performers, so organisations that are successfully retaining their top performers are focusing on all of these areas."
Bagnall points out that the technologies companies utilise are an important benefit for IT employees, both for their working environment and their own personal growth.
Organisations need to ensure that they are providing developers with up-to-date technologies to work on. Developers won’t want to work on stale ones or revisit outdated architecture, as this does nothing to help progress their skill sets.
"So they’re moving on to grow and develop their technology skills more than moving to up their salary," says Bagnall.
It is imperative that Ireland keeps its IT workforce if it wants to maintain its smart economy.
Fortunately, the country has managed to attract technology powerhouses such as Intel, Google, Facebook, IBM, Microsoft and HP, to name but a few.
For IT professionals, there is a huge choice of organisations, both multinational and indigenous, to aim for. But how competitive are Irish tech salaries on a global scale?
"Irish companies are doing well to compete globally and our recent successes in bringing in foreign direct investment are proving that we have the calibre and professionals in Ireland," stresses Bagnall.
"If we can meet the global technology standards they’re looking for, then clients are aware that they have to match the salary."
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