Tech salaries could outpace national wage growth by 5%

The 2021 Salary Guide by specialised recruiter Robert Half reveals that growing demand for technology skills is driving companies to increase their remuneration offerings well beyond that of other sectors in a bid to attract and retain top tech candidates.

  • 73% of Australian CIOs plan to extend salary increases to their tech employees.
  • 69% say they are willing to increase their initial salary offering to secure tech talent.
  • Staff retention and attraction are driving remuneration trends with 82% of CIOs concerned about losing their top IT talent due to the impact of COVID-19 and 53% believing it will be more challenging to find qualified tech employees compared to before the pandemic.

The newly released 2021 Salary Guide by specialised recruiter Robert Half reveals that growing demand for technology skills is driving companies to increase their remuneration offerings well beyond that of other sectors in a bid to attract and retain top tech candidates.
Salary trends in 2021 existing employees.

Across most industries, the pandemic sparked the rapid roll out of extensive digital transformation agendas as well as the initiation of new strategic projects to meet the changing needs and expectations of clients and consumers. As a result, there is strong growth in the technology sector which is defying stagnant growth trends in other industries with total jobs in the information and technology sector growing by 7.3% in the last quarter compared to a national growth of 2.2%.

As new business opportunities emerge while the entry of international talent slows, the study of 100 CIOs found that over four-in-five (82%) are concerned about losing their top tech talent due to the impact of COVID-19. In response, nearly three-quarters (73%) of businesses plan to extend salary increases to their existing tech employees with four-in-ten (39%) of them saying they will extend salary increases to all tech employees and 34% saying only top performers would receive increases.

While national wage growth is forecast at a stagnant 1.5% for the year ahead , salaries in the tech sector are well-positioned to achieve above-market growth. Robert Half research reveals that the average increase for those expecting a salary increase is well above national wage growth levels at 6.8%, more than 5% above the forecast national wage growth.

Salary trends in 2021 driven for new employees

Australian companies are also concerned about finding the right IT talent with over half (53%) of CIOs saying it is more challenging to find qualified IT employees compared to before the pandemic, emphasising the dual challenges of attraction and retention in the technology sector.

In the race to attract skilled tech talent as the market becomes more competitive and with employees less willing to change jobs, 69% of respondents say they are willing to increase their initial salary offering to secure in-demand IT professionals. More than four in 10 (43%) CIOs say they will increase salaries to secure top talent only, while 26% state they will increase pay offers to get all IT staff to accept their job offer.

Roles in demand

COVID-19 has accelerated change and transformation, but the long-term benefits of investing in technology have also become apparent to many business leaders.

In 2021, industries such as healthcare and not-for-profit are significantly increasing their hiring activity for IT staff. While tech roles that immediately support new digital capabilities are paramount, such as leveraging data for efficiency and planning purposes, longer-term strategies for investing in tech are creating strong demand for specialist skills such as IT security, IT management, and business transformation.

The specialist skills within technology that are proving to be the most difficult to find amongst job candidates include IT security (36%), IT management (33%), business transformation (30%), development or design (28%), and business intelligence (27%). With limited supply and high demand in the market, these skill sets are well positioned to command above-market salary offers from employers eager to secure their talent.

“Wage growth in the tech sector is being driven by a demand-supply imbalance. There is increased demand for tech talent as companies expand their IT teams and enhance their digital capabilities because of the pandemic. But as the tech sector remains buoyant compared to many others, elevated demand for tech skills is coinciding with a tightening supply of skilled talent, which is becoming increasingly insufficient to meet demand,” says David Jones, Senior Managing Director Asia Pacific.

Remuneration has always been a key driver to attract and retain IT professionals. However, while there is a willingness to offer salary increases – particularly to top performers – not every company is positioned to engage in a bidding war as they recover from months of uncertainty. Companies should therefore complement remuneration with alternative employee benefits to help differentiate themselves from their competitors. Non-financial benefits such as supporting work-life balance, working flexibility, including a mix of remote and in-office hours, and career development are just some of the non-financial benefits likely to add value to employees in 2021,” Jones concludes.

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Katherine Mills
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