Here's what happened in 2018 from a hiring perspective, the skills to have on your CV and how to make the most of a buoyant sector, despite global economic uncertainty.
1. UK IT workers are on the move
The Spiceworks' annual State of IT report for 2019 found that 38 percent of UK IT workers want to find a new job in 2019.
This coincides with 40 percent wanting to get a salary raise from current employer, but who doesn't right? The median IT salary in 2018 for the UK was £33,000, according to Spiceworks.
In the broader European IT jobs market the report shows that 43 percent of IT professionals plan to leave their current employer in 2019, with most stating a desire for a better salary as the primary motivation.
The good news is 32 percent of European organisationsplan to increase their IT staff in 2019, so ether are plenty of opportunities to move.
Similarly the job site CV Library found job vacancies in the UK IT sector were up by 19 percent in October 2018 month-on-month.
2. With GDPR, demand for big data skills surge
Demand for big data skills and professionals has surged by 78% in the past 12 months (Q1 2017 – Q1 2018), according to the Q1 2018 Tech Cities Job Watch report from IT recruitment specialists Experis, which came out in May 2018.
This increase far outstrips demand for mobile (26%) and cloud (30%) expertise.
The research puts this jump down to the upcoming general data protection regulation (GDPR), with Martin Ewings, director of specialist markets saying: “A number of regulatory hurdles this year – including the much talked about GDPR – coupled with the growing Internet of Things trend, are putting pressure on businesses to better manage, process, secure and leverage their data.
This has seen contractor demand rise 128% in the same period, and permanent role demand increase 68% for big data skills.
3. The UK IT gender pay gap is real
Research conducted by UK accountancy firm SJD revealed that men in the IT industry earn up to 30 percent more than women in the same roles.
The research, which surveyed more than 1,000 contractors, found that women with common job titles like SQL developer or IT architect earn almost a third less than their male counterparts.
Similar research by Mercer from back in 2016 found that men earn 25 percent more than women in the UK technology sector, following research which covered 66,000 employees across 153 companies.
4. The data skills gap is a major concern for UK CEOs
Research from data analytics firm Domo found that 71 percent of respondents believe that a lack of data access and skills could put their business at risk. As a result just 18 percent plan on investing in recruiting employees with strong digital skills though, and 17 percent said they will invest in digital skills training for existing staff.
The research was conducted by Domo in July 2018, where it polled more than 100 UK CEOs regarding the digital skills gap.
The primary driver for investment is actually on systems to help manage the wealth of data and analytics (26 percent), with only cyber security and compliance ranked higher (33 percent).
UK leaders did prove more data-oriented than their German or French counterparts however, with 17 percent of CEOs preferring to make decisions based on gut feel rather than data and insight in the UK, compared to 25 percent gut feel in France and 26 percent in Germany.
5. Brexit isn't denting confidence
Despite uncertainty surrounding the UK's decision to leave the European Union the annual Job Market Report by technology career site Dice showed that 78 percent of the 1,100 tech professionals surveyed were positive about their career prospects for the year ahead.
A massive 62 percent of permanent IT staff expect their salary to rise in the year ahead, and 59 percent of contractors expect the same.
This is reflected by the CompTIA IT Industry Business Confidence Index, which was released in January. This forecasts a growth of five percent globally for the IT industry, which is close to the highest rating the index has charted heading into the first quarter of a year.
However, Hired's 2018 Global State of Salaries report found there has been a seven percent decline in hiring candidates from outside the UK on its platform.
Tech workers from abroad are also being paid nearly more than £12,000 more than their UK-native colleagues.
6. Demand for IT jobs continues to rise
The Q4 2017 Tech Cities Job Watch report by IT recruitment specialists Experis came out in February 2018 and showed that demand for IT workers in the UK continues to rise unabated.
Year-on-year demand for all IT roles rose 35 percent compared to Q4 of 2016.
7. And salaries continue to rise
The Robert Half 2018 Salary Guide showed that technology salaries have risen the most of any industry in the UK since its 2017 survey, with average salaries in the IT sector up 1.9 percent.
The 2017 Dice Job Market Report showed that half of technology professionals now earn over £40,000 a year, one percent up from 2015. However, the report also showed that the majority of permanent IT staff (36 percent) earn between £20,000 and £40,000.
Experis tracks average permanent salaries across the UK's ten biggest tech cities at £55,535, in Q1 2018. London has the highest average salary of those cities at £62,219, across disciplines.
Hired's 2018 Global State of Salaries report also has London-specific tech worker salaries up £1,000 on average compared to last year, at £58,000.
8. Security salaries are higher than ever
With security becoming a board room issue over the past few years, as more and more high profile breaches occur, security skills are an increasing priority.
Despite a slight downturn in demand for cybersecurity skills heading into 2018, by 10 percent for permanent roles, IT security salaries are up four percent year-on-year according to Experis.
Experis Europe managing director Geoff Smith puts this slight downturn in demand down to a changing culture rather than a reduced hunger for IT skills. In his foreword to the Q4 Tech Cities Job Watch report he said: "A cultural shift has occurred in how organisations view and manage IT security.
"Increasingly, businesses recognise that IT security is simply too important to be the responsibility of one set of individuals in the corner of the IT function. It's now a core competency that’s woven into a wide range of both technical and non-technical roles."
In terms of pay, the Robert Walters 2018 salary survey for Europe found salaries for cyber security specialists having the biggest increase among IT professionals, up seven percent.
9. Especially data scientists
Data science is still one of the best-paid jobs in the IT industry. Research by Joblift into the UK's data scientist job market in 2017 found that 51 percent of job postings in 2017 advertised a salary of over £50,000, with an average advertised salary of around £49,000.
Read next: How to get a job as a data scientist
These jobs are predominantly in London however, with 53 percent of all vacancies last year, which is almost 13 times more than second place Cambridge and over 16 times more than third place Manchester.
10. Demand for contractors on the rise
According to the annual salary survey from recruitment firm Robert Walters, demand for short-term contractors is on the rise in 2018, putting this down to companies implementing "digital and transformation projects".
11. But day rates are falling
Despite this demand for contractors, the average day rate for IT workers continues to fall, down seven percent year-on-year across the UK from £450 to £419.
An interesting trend identified by Experis is that although more security contractors are being hired, with demand up a massive 24 percent year-on-year, day rates are down 13 percent over the same period.
Experis Europe managing director Geoff Smith remarked that this represents a "shift in the way organisations manage IT security".
"Instead of looking to contractors to manage large-scale specialist projects, they're using them to plug short-term skills gaps," he said. "By allocating them to lower value, higher volume security tasks, they're able to free up the time of permanent staff members to focus on more complex, strategic transformation initiatives."
12. Gender diversity is getting worse
The Dice Job Market Report showed that 91 percent of UK IT contractors are male, a hugely worrying figure for diversity. This is worse, from a diversity standpoint, than 2016, which was an 88 to 12 percent divide between men and women. Permanent IT employees fared little better at 90 percent male, up from 87 percent in 2016.
13. Demand for cloud roles is shifting
The Tech Cities Job Watch Q2 2017 report by IT recruitment specialists Experis shows that demand for cloud skills is shifting, with demand for more specialist roles increasing.
The report says: "While cloud architects and other specialist roles remain in demand, fewer organisations today are looking to recruit experts to design and build new cloud platforms. After all, many organisations have already made the move. And those that have not are often hindered by the cost and complexity of such a project; barriers which may take years to overcome."
This means pay growth in the cloud discipline overall has started to slow. The report found that the number of cloud-based roles almost doubled in the past year to 11,917 in Q2 2017, but salaries and contractor day rates have stagnated.
14. Junior developer salaries are on the rise
According to the Robert Half 2018 Salary Guide the job role with the biggest jump in salary since 2017 is the 'junior developer', climbing 4.5 percent on average from £19,500-£30,000 to £19,750-£32,000.
Next was 'senior business analyst' jumping 4.4 percent from £42,500-£71,500 to £46,500-£72,500. The salaries of a 'data analyst' also rose 3.8 percent from £23,500-£30,000 to £24,500-£58,500.
Lastly, system administrators saw a good rise of 3.7 percent for the year, jumping from £28,500-£45,250 to £29,750-£46,750.
15. AI skills are in short supply
According to an August 2017 survey conducted by Gartner analysts Jim Hare and Whit Andrews titled 'Enterprises Dipping Toes Into AI but Are Hindered by Skills Gap', enterprises are struggling to find the right talent to implement AI-driven data strategies.
The report found that over half of the respondents felt that "a lack of skills is the biggest hindrance organisations face in deploying AI solutions, highlighting the challenges in finding people who have AI expertise” - such as deep learning.
The surveyed organisations spoke of a brain drain to the big internet giants. According to the report: "Much of the AI innovation [is] happening at the university level, and the graduating students joining cloud AI providers such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft (with lofty salaries) or launching their own startups to take advantage of the feeding frenzy of investments from the venture capital community."
16. Bristol is the best paid city to work outside of London
Of the emerging tech hubs around the UK Bristol is second only to London with an average salary across disciplines of £59,500, compared to London's £62,750, according to Experis.
Web developers are especially well paid in the south western city, at an average clip of £84,400. However it is this outlier that bumps Bristol up so high on average, with most disciplines being generally better paid in cities like Edinburgh and Cambridge.
17. Salaries still lag behind the USA
The 2018 Global State of Salaries report from recruitment startup Hired found that tech workers in London make 42 percent less than those in San Francisco - even when factoring in cost of living.
In fact, UK tech workers are earning significantly less than those in San Francisco (42 percent) and New York (28 percent), and the only place that tech workers make less than in the UK is France.
The report is based on metrics from Hired's platform and compiled by its own data science team. The salaries included reflect more than 420,000 interview requests and job offers from the past year, from more than 10,000 participating companies and 69,000 job seekers.
18. Product managers earn really well
Hired's report also showed that product managers bring in the highest average salary of anyone using its platform, at $145K.
19. AngularJS is the fastest growing skill
Java, Python and AWS were the second, third and fourth fastest-growing skills sought by employers, according to the data.