It’s encouraging to see that employers are optimistic this year, despite the continued uncertainty surrounding the economic and political climate, writes Sarah Stevenson, director at Hays in the Thames Valley.
As employers across the Thames Valley are expanding and skills shortages grow in key disciplines such as finance and technology, many have been faced with pressure to increase salaries to attract and retain the talented people they need as they look to drive successful growth for the future.
Rapid advancements in technology have meant that the demand for professionals with digital skills is extremely high, and this has had a direct impact on technology salaries in the past year.
The latest Hays UK Salary & Recruiting Trends 2019 guide, which includes survey responses from almost 23,000 UK professionals, revealed that of the top 10 pay rises in 2018, eight were for technology roles. The roles included; senior front end developers and data architects who saw an average increase of 6.2% respectively and database developers who experienced an average increase of 5.6%.
Other areas which have seen high salary increases include tax managers in financial services at 6.7% due to increased focus on compliance. Competition for staff has also led to an increase in demand for HR professionals, with reward specialists seeing an increase of 3% and construction site management roles which saw an increase of 3.4%.
Increased investment outside of London
Many organisations are now investing outside of London in sectors including technology, construction and finance and this year our research showed that several regions had experienced above-average salary increases, with many outpacing London.
Reading is largely viewed as the epicentre of the Thames Valley and the ‘Silicon Valley’ of the UK, so technology is a key industry for us and prime area of growth. The increasing demand for technology professionals shows no signs of slowing down across the UK and places like Bournemouth are now thought to have potential to become an established tech cluster in the next decade, as the industry continues to grow.
In line with this, Hays Digital Technology, in partnership with tech super connectors Empact Ventures, recently held an event in Bournemouth as part of the BOMO festival with an aim to support and encourage professionals with a passion for technology, to better engage, connect and collaborate with others within the industry.
Skills shortages impacting the hiring agenda
75% of employers in the Thames Valley are expecting to hire staff over the next 12 months, compared with 64% last year as continuing skills shortages are putting pressure on productivity and threatening employee morale.
Recently there has been an increase in demand for temporary and contract workers in the Thames Valley, suggesting that there may be some caution on the part of employers with regards to investing in permanent hires as they look to fill skills gaps.
As well as having an impact on pay, skills shortages and competition for talent in the Thames Valley are being felt by the workforce and 48% of employers say that it is threatening productivity. In addition to this 44% of employers believe it’s having a negative impact on employee morale and 40% say it is impacting their ability to deliver projects. This is worrying as it could dent business growth rates, despite employers anticipating high levels of business activity.
Planning for the year ahead – Money is not enough
Standing out from your competitors is essential in today’s market and finding and engaging the best candidates is becoming more complex, with organisations having to come up with innovative approaches to recruitment.
Employers will need to act decisively in 2019 if they want to stay ahead of their competition, particularly when recruiting in highly competitive areas such as technology. It is important that strong offers are made when trying to attract staff, this means offering more than just competitive pay. Professionals in the Thames Valley have expressed that career progression, work life balance and other aspects are also important to them and a strong offer will help employers to secure the talent needed.
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