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Professionals in IT security or data analytics roles should expect to see significant pay rises in 2017, according to research.
A study by recruitment firm Robert Walters found that salaries for IT security professionals would increase by 8% over the next year, and data analysts would see a 4% pay rise over the same period.
James Murray, associate director at Robert Walters, said this could be due, in part, to an increase in high-profile data breaches and the need for data insight.
“Senior stakeholders are acutely aware of the impact data breaches can have on a company’s image and their finances and, as a result, they are willing to offer high salaries to top-calibre candidates,” he said. “Senior business leaders are also increasingly coming to recognise the pivotal role that data science and analytics can have on driving cost efficiencies and allowing businesses to grow in a sustainable way.”
But there is still a shortage of skilled workers in the tech sector, and firms often complain that graduates are leaving university without the necessary skills to fill a role.
Industry body Tech UK recently called on the government to implement a plan to tackle the growing skills gap in big data, while cyber skills shortages are putting firms at increased risk of attack.
As cyber security specialists and data scientists are in high demand and low supply, the cost of these employees is rising.
To combat this in the cyber, data analytics and business intelligence space, employers are searching for junior or mid-level employees to fill roles, and data analysts at this level are seeing the biggest pay rises.
Murray said: “Due to the shortage of candidates with this skillset, we expect an increase in salaries and a lucrative contract market for data engineers. To keep salary costs down, hiring managers are increasingly looking for junior professionals with the potential to grow into more senior roles within the team.”
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Salaries for junior information security analysts have seen a 15% increase from a year ago, while mid-level security professionals have seen an 8% pay rise.
The same pattern can be seen in junior data scientist roles, for which there has been a 9% year-on-year increase in average pay.
But although these jobs are highly technical, many argue that firms need workers with both soft and technical skills for their IT teams as technology becomes part of every worker’s remit.
Murray added: “IT security specialists with strong technical competencies are highly sought after, but those who can also demonstrate strong communications and stakeholder management skills will stand out from the competition.”
Many argue there should be more focus on collaboration between universities and industry to ensure graduates are leaving courses with the skills they need for tech roles.
Apprenticeships have also been suggested as an alternative to tech-specific degrees, because they help young people learn skills on the job and employers can ensure they are learning the skills they need for a specific role.