Bigger raises for British IT staff

IT workers in the U.K.’s public sector are getting better pay raises and a wider range of benefits than their counterparts in private firms. They also generally stick with the same organization longer, according to a new study by Computer Economics Limited (CEL) for the Society of IT Management (Socitm).

While pay is generally not as high as in the private sector, that gap has narrowed slightly in the last couple of years, the study found. Recruitment problems in the public sector are also increasing, though they’re still not as bad as in the private sector.

The study covered 88 local authorities, covering more than 5,000 staff, seven job levels, five job functions and more than 100 key skills. The results were compared against CEL’s wider database of salaries of IT workers in the private sector.

The study suggests that raises are relatively stable in the public sector, while they’re somewhat less predictable in private companies. Salaries increased by an average of five per cent in the most recent survey, slightly higher than last year’s 4.8 per cent. In the private sector, by contrast, salaries went up by 4.8 per cent this year, compared with 3.5 per cent in 2005’s survey.

Fire Services staff saw the biggest increase, at 6.7 per cent, while the biggest rises by region went to Wales, also with 6.7 per cent. District councils, with 3.8 per cent, and the South East, with 4.5 per cent, had the lowest increases. Salaries still being significantly lower in the public sector, organizations are widely using fringe benefits to lure workers.

Ninety-nine per cent offered flexible working hours; 76 per cent allowed some staff to work from home; 92 per cent offered job sharing; and 86 per cent had a training and development structure for all staff.

“As in past surveys, it is clear that while local authorities may not always offer the highest available salaries, the overall package of benefits is generally very attractive,” said Andy Roberts, chair of Socitm’s Member Services Group, in a statement. Recruitment problems are, however, getting worse. Last year 31.3 per cent had problems, and the figure has gone up to 51 per cent this year, the main problem being a shortage of suitable candidates. The figure for the private sector this year is 74 per cent, up from 58 per cent last year.

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