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Covid-19 saw 32% of UK&I firms furlough IT staff in 2020

The coronavirus outbreak led to pay freezes, reduced hours and furlough for many IT workers, according to Computer Weekly’s annual salary survey

This article can also be found in the Premium Editorial Download: Computer Weekly: How Covid-19 has hit IT salaries and job prospects

Almost a third of companies in the UK and Ireland furloughed IT staff in 2020 during the coronavirus outbreak, according to research by Computer Weekly.

The latest annual Computer Weekly/TechTarget IT salary survey asked IT workers about their salaries and employers over the past year. It found that 32% of IT workers said their firms had furloughed IT staff due to the pandemic.

Almost 30% of IT workers said their firms had implemented a pay freeze in 2020 and 19% said their firms were making IT staff redundant.

The Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak caused widespread uncertainty, especially for businesses, and as chair of the BCS consultancy specialist group Alan Warr stated in August 2020, this meant businesses exercised caution when deciding whether or not to hire new staff.

“CIOs will struggle to get hiring approved while other staff are furloughed and business-side jobs and business units are at risk,” he said.

The uncertainty caused by the coronavirus outbreak was reflected in Computer Weekly’s IT salary survey, with tech workers revealing a mix of strategies among their firms.

Some 19% of IT staff said their firms reduced working hours by an average of 10 hours a week in 2020, while 14% said their firms increased working hours by an average of 10 hours a week. 

Just under 20% of IT workers said their companies decreased the use of IT within the business, while 17% said their firms recruited more IT staff, and 7% increased their use of IT contractors.

In many cases, people hoping to land new roles in 2020 found their search affected by the pandemic and some gave up altogether, according to CWJobs.

A majority of IT workers claimed they were happy where they were for the time being. Some 45% said they intended to stay in their current role at their current company for the immediate future, and 44% said that – while open to new opportunities – they were not currently looking, which is a small drop from an average of 46% in 2019.

There was a year-on-year drop in the number of IT staff who claimed to be actively looking for a new role, from 15% in 2019 to 11% in 2020. Of those seeking a new role, 35% were looking for more money and 17% wanted a more senior position.

Salaries up and down

When it came to salaries for IT workers, some of 2020’s averages were slightly lower than those found by Computer Weekly in 2019.

On average, IT workers in the UK made around £71,880 a year in 2020, a drop from 2019’s average of £79,354 – this varied based on job title, industry and number of years in the sector.

Senior IT leaders made £97,105 a year on average, although those working for companies with more than 1,000 employees made an average of £13,895 more a year, bringing in £111,000 annually.

The same trend was seen for IT managers, who made on average £62,959 – a slight increase on 2019’s average of £61,232 – but averaged an annual income of £79,000 in larger companies.

Not surprisingly, those who have worked in the industry for longer generally made more cash, with those who have been working in IT for 15 years or more making on average £92,565 a year, with 82% of those in IT management or senior IT leadership having been in the sector for this amount of time.

IT architects averaged £93,711 a year, which is significantly more than developers who made on average £50,300 in 2020.

General IT staff earned an average of £41,000 a year, a drop from 2019’s results which found that IT staff averaged an annual wage of £43,206.

Almost 40% of IT workers said their salaries and benefits had stayed the same over the past year, with no pay rises or reductions, no bonuses and no perks or reductions in benefits for 38% of respondents.

Some received a salary increase (36%), of which 32% saw an increase of 2% or more and 13% an increase of 5% or more.

Just over 5% of tech workers said their salary had decreased in 2020 and 4% said their benefits had reduced.

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