French novelist, Alphonse Karr, is credited with the old saying ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same’ – which aptly describes the current state of the South African IT skills market.
Since 2008, widespread economic upheaval has created a climate of uncertainty, causing many South African companies to modify their approach to talent management, leaning towards pay and hiring freezes, reduced focus on retention and, in extreme cases, retrenchment.
Resulting insecurity has led IT staff to adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach, with many electing to stay with current employers on a ‘better the devil you know’ basis, often leading to a decrease in job satisfaction.
However, despite these challenges, the South African IT skills market has remained largely unchanged. Our IT skills shortage remains severe and, particularly in the ‘scarce skills’ space, IT talent remains well paid.
What does this mean for IT employers?
Demand for IT staff in key areas - particularly high level C# or Java Developers, Architects, certain Network Infrastructure skills and IT Security – remains high. As a result, experienced candidates in these ‘scarce skill’ areas can expect to earn significantly more, receive bigger increases and to have many more job options available to them.
Over the past 3 years – since the economic crisis began in 2008 – while average increases for IT staff have remained steady between 7% and 8% per annum, the actual increase rate among ‘scarce skills’ has been far higher.
In some cases – most notably, in Systems Development and Architecture – actual increases have been as high as 31%, with most staff in these areas receiving minimum increases of between 12% and 15% per annum.
Consequently, employers of ‘scarce skills’ can expect to – and should - pay more to attract and retain key IT staff.
For example, on average, a good, degreed C# Developer with over 4 years of experience currently earns between R420 000 and R540 000 per annum.
However, an outstanding C# Developer with over 6 years of experience, a stable track record with reputable companies and a degree can command between R600 000 and R720 000 per annum. In addition, if they are considered key to the success of a business, they may also receive anything from additional bonuses to profit share from the software they have developed or shares in the company.
Economic uncertainty has not dampened the enthusiasm for good IT skills.
Companies who recognize this – and have a strategy to deal with it that includes remuneration – are more likely to stay ahead of the global ‘war for talent’.
As Charles Darwin said…
"In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment."
Each year, Insource.ICT hosts an annual IT Salary Survey Breakfast, focused on providing current information on salaries earned and trends in the South African IT space.
Our 2012 Breakfast is taking place on 24 May 2012.
If you would like to attend, please contact Susan Rousseau on firstname.lastname@example.org
By Susan Rousseau, Client Development Manager, Insource.ICT
Kathryn Cave looks at the big trends in tech
Rupert Goodwins’ unique angle on tech change
Phil Muncaster reports on China and beyond