Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland IT sector tops annual pay survey

By Clare Weir

Information technology has emerged as the best-performing sector in the Northern Ireland recruitment market following major investment announcements this year.

Brightwater Recruitment Specialists said returning market confidence and overseas investment in Northern Ireland has pushed up expected earnings in IT and some other sectors.

The company's annual salary survey is based on data gathered from hundreds of employers across a range of industries and professions.

The survey reveals that salary levels stabilised across many sectors this year with human resources, financial services and engineering counted among the best performing.

In IT, a chief technical officer can expect to command £70,000 to £100,000.

Accountants are also well remunerated, with partners in public practice and taxation expecting to earn between £60,000 and £130,000.

But Brightwater, which has recruited for Fujitsu and Citibank, said salaries in the IT sector performed better than expected due to new investments and openings.

In June, Indian firm L-amp;T Infotech announced it would create 85 jobs in a software centre in Belfast.

Michelle Kearns, head of Brightwater's Belfast division, said the analysis identified positive movement in the marketplace.

"While 2010 has been challenging, confidence and stability is slowly returning," she said.

"IT has been clearly the strongest performing area but, importantly, recession-hit sectors like financial services and engineering have enjoyed consistency and greater movement in the marketplace, particularly in the latter part of 2010.

"There has also been increased movement in senior appointments within human resources and this is a trend which we hope to see continue in 2011."

David Bloch, managing director of Brightwater Group, said the report identified renewed optimism in the private sector that would yield benefits for jobseekers and those in permanent employment.

He added that some notable trends observed during the compilation of the survey were consistent with the rest of Europe.

"From what we are seeing, recruitment in Northern Ireland is still in tandem with leading European markets. The EU recently reported that 10% of the active population, some 23m people, are currently unemployed across the EU, but some employers are still reporting difficulties in recruiting - especially for high-skill jobs," he said

"Though that figure is much higher than in Northern Ireland, the challenges facing businesses are largely similar with top performers only now finding the confidence to explore new career options."