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At the start of 2014, IT leaders expressed great optimism about expanding budgets and their ability to reward IT staff with salary increases. But that optimism didn't quite pan out. A TEKsystems poll taken late in 2014 found expectations didn't match reality, and far fewer IT leaders saw budget increases than expected.
In 2015, 45 percent of IT leaders expect their budgets to increase. While this number closely matches the 47 percent of leaders who actually saw their budgets increase in 2014, it’s significantly below the 62 percent who expected growth last year. An additional 39 percent expect spending to remain flat, and leaders anticipating a decrease rose a few points from last year, to 16 percent.
IT salary growth may slow
IT salaries will probably reflect the general trend of cautious budgeting this year. While most IT leaders expect their staff’s salaries to increase, the raises may be less generous this year. The same small percentage of IT leaders expecting to increase staff salaries 10 or more percent is identical to 2014 predictions, but fewer expect to give raises in the 5-9 percent range, and more expect staff salaries to decrease.
Bargaining power: This year’s hardest-to-fill positions
While programmers and developers, software engineers and architects continue to be the hardest roles to fill, our late-2014 polling showed some shifting in the rest of the list. Project managers are increasingly hard to find and retain, which will help them increase already substantial salaries (two-thirds make over $100,000 a year). IT leaders expect IT security pros to be harder to locate this year, no surprise after a year of well-publicized InfoSec breaches.
However, in a startling trend, only about half of IT leaders expect to award pay increases for the five hardest-to-find positions, compared to 67 percent last year.
2015: Difficulty in finding exceptional talent for IT-related positions
1. Programmers and developers
2. Software engineers
4. Project managers
6. Business analysts
7. Business intelligence
8. Big Data analytics
9. Help desk / technical support
12. Social technology experts
Entering 2015, 40 percent of IT leaders expect to increase staff size, but that’s fewer than 2014’s 47 percent. Contingent staffing may not be as aggressive either. While 46 expected to hire more contractors entering 2014, only 36 percent do now. Nothing is dire for IT workers, though, as 90 percent of IT leaders expect staffing to increase or stay the same.
The big picture
In all, IT pros will find themselves in high demand. Although wage growth has remained stagnant across the general workforce—in defiance of growing employment numbers—IT workers will continue to see salary raises, but perhaps more modest ones than they expect.
However, the period of slowly increasing wages may be coming to a rapid end. With the American workforce nearing full employment—and the IT market even tighter—some workers are starting to take action to ensure their own wage growth. Voluntary departures are rising, and many workers are signaling their desire for bonuses and salary increases to their employers. Employers, take note: To keep your best and brightest talent, you’ll need to pay them accordingly.