Software engineer shortage pushes up salaries

Contractors raise their rates 10% or more as businesses struggle to recruit skilled software engineers

Pay rates for software engineers are defying the downturn amid concerns that the UK faces a growing shortage of skilled programming professionals.

Over a quarter of in-house software engineers have seen pay rises of 10% or more during the past 12 months as companies vie to attract the best talent.

Over a third of contractors have increased their rates according to research from Computer Weekly and recruitment company Mortimer Spinks.

“There is a massive shortage of software engineers. Employers have to wake up," said Adrian Jellinek, senior technology consultant at Mortimer Spinks.

Record salaries

Software engineers without any management or leadership responsibility can command salaries of up to £55,000, said Jellinek.

But even with the high salaries on offer, posts are proving difficult to fill, particularly in London and south-east England, he said.

“One client had four .Net roles and literally had no candidate to interview. They were offering £55,000 which was well over the market rate.”

Small businesses contacted by Computer Weekly said they were struggling to fill software engineering vacancies .

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Technology Industry Survey 2013

Nicklas Richardson, head of development at Telemetry, said it was virtually impossible to find the right staff.

Salary rates were being pushed up by start-ups backed by venture capital funding, who could afford to pay higher than market rates, he said.

Recruiting Overseas

Jim Bowes CEO and Co-Founder of Manifesto Digital, said he had been forced to look overseas to find developers.

“I would love to be part of solution for solving job needs in country, but we are not getting any English candidates at all,” he said.

Ejber Ozkan, development team leader at Pole Star Space Applications, said salaries were becoming unaffordable.

“We are looking at £60,000 just for a software engineer to sit down and talk to us. For an SME, that is a problem,” he said.

Visa rules

The shortage has been exacerbated by changes in visa rules, which means fewer developers from Australia and South Africa are looking for work in the UK, say recruitment specialists.

“We are going to be reaching breaking point in the next 12 months. Companies are going to be setting up offices overseas where they can get people,” said Jellinek.

Jim Bowes, founder of Digital Manifesto, said he was considering setting up an office in the north of England and forming partnerships with local universities to recruit and train up software engineers.

“If we got a partnership with a good university where we invested in people and trained people, the starting costs would be lower, and the rent lower. So the total package is lower,” he said.

Brain Drain

Mortimer Spinks said he low value of the pound has contributed to a brain drain of British software engineers.

“People ask where the best British developers have gone. They have gone to Australia, because they can earn more there,” said Jellinek.

The research suggest that demand for software engineers is increasing, with some 35% of professionals saying the number of software engineers on their premises had increased.

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