With IT being the fastest growing industry in the UK, it’s probably not too surprising that we’re seeing a significant skills shortage, especially in the areas of web development and software engineering.
I work for Pure Resourcing Solutions (Pure) – a leading recruitment consultancy firm in the East of England.
We’re finding that the IT job market has become particularly buoyant in the last year in Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. And over the next 12 months we expect to see new technology vacancies emerging as the regional economy strengthens.
Many local employers are struggling to fill permanent IT vacancies, but they’re offering competitive salaries and generous benefit packages to attract and retain the best talent. This trend is expected to intensify throughout 2015.
According to data from Compare My Salary (the UK’s only live peer-to-peer salary comparison website), senior wages in the eastern counties exceed £100,000, and almost one quarter earn between £40,000 and £49,999. Annual bonuses range from £300 to £15,000.
We’re also seeing more people escaping long commutes and crowds of big city life as they relocate to this region.
Trends across the counties
North Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk are seeing growing SMEs advertising for new IT staff to support their development. With around 548,000 SMEs in the East of England alone, these opportunities are probably set to increase as SMEs engage more with customers through digital channels. As a result, more roles are emerging in user experience, e-commerce and data management, as well as traditional IT support.
Also, SMEs in our region need IT staff with non-traditional skillsets. We know of digital marketing agencies that are looking for developers for client-facing roles, for example.
Ipswich has an established financial industry in need of more IT professionals. Plus, with increasing business investment in the local start-up scene, the signs here are very positive for plenty of new jobs.
And if job seekers want to work with bigger names, the East of England is also home to employers including BT, Aviva, KLM, Konica and Benefit Cosmetics.
But I couldn’t talk about the region without mentioning Cambridge – one of the world’s centres of technology. Research shows that the city is the best place to look for work, with 10 vacancies to every job seeker.
Dubbed ‘Silicon Fen‘, Cambridge is home to successful technology firms, making it a strong contender to London. Also, the city is thought to have 18% of the UK’s £1bn gaming industry – it’s home to companies such as Jagex and Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios.
Cambridge’s innovation cluster includes global names such as ARM, CSR and Microsoft, and Apple is due to open an office here. And with some of the world’s brightest minds and global commercial deals, it’s safe to say that the options for IT workers will remain excellent.
But job seekers shouldn’t focus on the city – we’re seeing many more progressive employers around the eastern region now offering opportunities for long-term career development.
More than a salary
Although income is a key factor, we’re hearing that IT candidates want more from a new job. They also want to work for a business with vision, to work with the latest systems, and to push their professional boundaries. They also want to know whether the business is a good employer.
In response, regional employers are promoting themselves more openly when recruiting, so candidates can get to know the company behind the job.
Take Adnams in Suffolk for example. The brewery is currently recruiting an IT Director so Pure is promoting its brand including its award-winning status as a ‘Best Employer’, to attract high-calibre people.
Finally, some advice
Overall, the job market in the East of England is certainly a viable alternative to the more traditional hubs such as London and the M4 corridor. The job market is ripe for people seeking both permanent and contract roles. But I recommend job seekers sign up with just one recruitment agency: one with a good client list and one that will meet you in person to find out what you really want. It’s the most effective route to finding the right job and the right employer.