IT and web design hiring rates outstrip retail hires, technology recruiter finds

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IT and web design hiring rates rose 12% last year compared to a 3% rise in retail hiring, according to analysis by specialist technology recruiter Greythorn.

At the same time, growth in online retail sales is dwarfing that of traditional retail.

The number of roles in IT and web design has risen by 32,000 over the past year, said Greythorn. The biggest increase has been in web designers which has risen 19.4% from 31,000 to 37,000 roles. The number of IT business architects and system designers has risen 18.8% from 85,000 to 101,000 in the same period, Greythorn reports.

Growth of online retail

Online spending grew 10.9% in the year to February 2013, two and half times the rate of total retail sales (4.4%), according to the British Retail Consortium. Official statistics are even more stark for high street stores – January saw an 8.7% increase in online retail sales despite a 0.6% year-on-year fall in overall retail sales, according to ONS.

To address this, a number of large online retailers have significantly bolstered their IT teams, including John Lewis who announced the hire of 100 new staff in January 2013. From their own figures, Greythorn said it has seen growth of 89% in IT roles placed in online retail over the past year, compared with the previous 12 months.

Greythorn director, Mark Baxter, said: “The list of high street insolvencies is becoming a roll-call and there appears to be no end of famous names struggling or going under. It is undoubtedly sad news, but there is a silver lining in the growth of IT roles. As online shopping grows, companies are increasingly investing in improving the customer experience and the back office operations supporting online sales. It is a key stage in transferring to a high tech economy. The number of specialised new roles is growing and that is only good news for IT professionals.”

Greater earnings

As well as an increase in roles, IT salaries are also typically higher than those in retail, said Greythorn. The average salary of an IT system designer is £37,092, whereas a retail manager, with a similar level of seniority, earns an average salary of £21,237.

However, due to increased numbers and new roles, IT pay has seen slow growth with rises of 0.35% for IT system designers and 1.18% for software developers, and there has been a -0.45% fall in pay for web designers. Pay growth in retail is a more mixed picture, with strong rises of 3.13% for retail managers, but falls of -2.01% and -2.39% for sales cashiers and retail assistants respectively.

Baxter said: “A career in IT is potentially very lucrative and the number and diversity of roles is growing rapidly. Obviously, there are specific technical skills that are needed, but it is a candidate’s market for experienced IT professionals who are either already in online retail or those in other sectors with transferrable skills. For people looking to retrain, web design and online retail offer excellent opportunities that will only increase as people vote with their feet and choose to stay at home rather than shop on the high street.”