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North bucks recession and narrows north-south IT pay gap

Rebecca Thomson

Average pay for IT workers in the north of England has bucked the trend and grown 6% in 2009, closing the pay gap between IT professionals in the north and south.

Data from recruitment agency Rethink Recruitment shows the gap has closed by 3% - £780 a year - with northern IT workers now earning 69% of London salaries, compared with 66% in 2008.

Average weekly salaries for staff in the north jumped from £590 in 2008 to £625 in 2009. The north-west region was particularly strong, rising from £620 to £640.

London's comparatively sluggish growth is likely to be down to its reliance on the financial sector, which has faltered over the past year. Meanwhile, the north is increasingly dominated by software suppliers and chip manufacturers and has had a better time of it, with the north-west doing especially well. Fujitsu and Siemens each have their UK headquarters in the north, and IBM, Cisco and Oracle have major operations in Manchester.

According to Manchester development agency MIDAS, the city employs 100,000 IT workers. The north-west employs 10% of the entire UK IT workforce - the biggest number outside the south-east.

The financial sector is strengthening slightly and it will be interesting to see whether London picks up again in 2010, said Debbie Davenport, director at Rethink Recruitment.

But she said the growth in the north is likely to continue. "IT pay growth in the north has traditionally been slower than London and the south-east, but we are seeing a growing recognition among employers that if they want the best skills they have to offer competitive pay. The rapid growth of the IT sector around Manchester is beginning to outstrip the region's production of skills, which is pushing up salaries."


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