back to article IT salaries: Why you are a clapped-out Ferrari

As a tech careers writer I regularly receive noise about the UK IT “skills shortage", which makes as much sense as saying there’s a shortage of Ferraris. I know this because, according to Blighty's Office for National Statistics, the average weekly pre-tax pay in “computer programming, consultancy and related activities” in …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > our pay is nearer to the average than it once was

    There is definitely an issue in pay of "best vs worst" (depends on organisation of course), but difference in productivity is often 2-5x vs pay difference of 20-25%. That said, I'm sure that's true in most industries.

    I do see an issue in interviews for incoming recruits where too many view "programming" as their job. It's a tool, nothing more. If you can't design and solve problems you are no use to me. Being good at "programming" is like having a mechanic who is good with "spanners" - essential, but not useful by itself.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "the average weekly pre-tax pay in “computer programming, consultancy and related activities” in 2012 was £718.70, which is about the same as a decent Ferrari's cost of ownership""

      Surely that's per day? No consultants I know would get out of bed for much less than £500 a day including me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        He means permies I am sure....

      2. xyz Silver badge

        Just my thought exactly. You'd have to be really, really crap to get £700 a week.

  2. hightower00

    Great article

    Cracking article, keep up the good work Mr Connor!

  3. Why Not?


    Thanks Dominic, thought provoking as usual.

    Should we not be comparing IT work with Average qualified wage?

    I suspect the level of qualification in IT and legal is much higher than the average workforce, you for instance compared salaries to lawyers. So a comparison to average wage will always show a premium.

    There is a 'degree premium' to most jobs, from memory its 10 - 20%. Entrance into IT nowadays is almost exclusively degree qualified minimum.

  4. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    extrapolating the curve

    Looks like I'll hit retirement at exactly the right moment.


  5. ChrisBoy

    First of all, an interesting and insightful article, thank you!

    Like the author, I have around 25 years commercial IT experience: software development, training and support. I also look back fondly to the days when genuine skill was appreciated and paid at (admittedly) a very generous rate. My pay rate hasn't changed in years, and this isn't something I'd complain about, given that it started off way above the average for the hours and effort expended, but some things certainly have changed.

    In the late 1990s I was a technical trainer, loving the experience of having a room full of geeks eager to learn the ins and outs of (e.g.) NetWare, TCP/IP, etc. but in the space of a few months, a quite astonishing and noticeable change meant it became much more common to have an audience concerned only with passing a specific exam, with no interest in what had been learned from experience, and much less in sharing any (often limited) experience of their own.

    Whereas at one time it was a novelty for enthusiastic but amateur programmers (yes, Office developers usually) to be able to pick up tips, it is now with monotonous regularity that I am asked to help out with projects undertaken by people who have little or no genuine interest in programming, but don't think it's worth their while employing experts to write applications when they can cobble something together from scripts downloaded from the web.

    I'm not talking about home users who want make an address book in Access or use mail merge to send out party invitations, but 'professionals', for whom building an application is one of their many varied IT roles.

    It isn't that our skills are less valuable, just that they're less valued because what is there to compare them with? That applications can be built (and I've seen many, many examples) by people who by their own admission don't 'get' the document object model, understand the difference between what PHP does and what Javascript does, or have the vaguest notion of how or why relationships are used in databases, just makes me look like an expensive luxury to managers who think that anybody can write an app.

    Amongst the questions I've (genuinely) been asked in the past fortnight alone by 'IT professionals': "How long would it take me to write an app?" and "Would it be easier to write this without using variables?".

    So, of the million or so 'IT professionals', which presumably includes support staff, network engineers, designers, developers et al, how many are doing what they're actually good at, and (more to the point) how many are appreciated for it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      re: without variables

      At least they'll always get the same answer, and if you're really good, you can run the program once, and change it to a single "@echo "$answer" "

    2. xj25vm

      I concur with many of the thoughts in the post above. Maybe it's just me - and I've been only working in a paid role in IT for about 11 years - but I get disheartened when I see people who are supposed to be IT pros, yet have not passion or real interest in either being good at what they do or doing things properly. Crazy to see people working for software houses developing and supporting Windows software for a living - and yet having no idea that they shouldn't put user configs or program data in C:\Program Files - and that's been the official MS stance for many years. I don't even like Windows and still know it! Or things like sharing an entire C: drive to the network out of convenience - with no second thought to security implications. Or phone engineers leaving VoIP or hybrid systems connected to the internet with ports open and the default admin username/password! And then wondering why sometimes their clients find the phone system configuration trashed when they go to work in the morning!

      Yes - the words "IT Pro" are pretty meaningless nowadays. It's not so much not knowing stuff that's worse - everybody learns all the time - what is worse is not caring about learning more and being good at what you do.

      And don't even get me started on sales people who pass themselves as "IT experts" or "IT consultants". I'm sorry, but working in a company where other people actually do "IT stuff" and know the real thing is not the equivalent with you yourself having a clue. Bugger off and stop calling yourself an IT expert. No disrespect intended to those sales people who might actually possess real IT knowledge - not just regurgitate some acronyms they overheard or follow a series of steps on s sheet of paper without having the faintest clue as to what they mean.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This is all too true. I can provide the perspective of a noob to the iindustry (4 years now) and I started at the bottom on a helpdesk. I studied for a Computing degree but unless you can nab a rare apprenticeship with a major player the only realistic option now is to begin on a helpdesk, regardless of your aims. This to me seemed to be the equivalent of a qualified mechanic having to start off giving driving lessons rather than practice what matters.

      The culture of box ticking for qualifications seems to begin with staff high up the chain, who regard IT as a necessary evil and a service that they'd rather not spend money on. I've been to many external industry recognised courses (the usual suspects) with people on the course who perform non-IT roles such as 'retail buyer' being sent on MCP type courses because their manager saw 'Windows 7' somewhere in the title and clearly thought 'we are migrating to Windows 7 soon, so that MCP will be handy'. Many even in my own organisation see an external course as a free week off work.

      The industry isn't what it used to be and even I know that as a newbie. I know one of the 'old school elite' through my parents (probably not that dissimilar to yourself). My father (and most of his friends) automatically went into manual work and learnt a trade when they left school. Then there is one man in the group that somehow, against the flow, ended up computer programming in the early 80s. He's now the one they speak about who has a brand new Porsche. He's also the one that 'works hard for 6 months but doesn't have to work for the rest of the year'. This is the man that I'm compared to in the pub when I say 'I work in IT' and they all sigh and say 'you must earn a lot'. That may have happened 30 years ago but nowadays some potentially talented IT workers have to fight at the bottom to compete with people who somehow stumbled into IT with a humanities degree and people who think that their skills at Facebook and ripping CDs entitle them to 'IT Pro' wages.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nesta is squandering some of its vast budget

    I think you'll find Nesta has a vast endowment and a fairly meager budget but it does like to confuse the two ...

    They did do some really interesting studies on investment mind - but the 2009 work still seems to be what they shout about.

  7. Magister

    damned statistics

    >>since IT makes up at least 10 per cent of all wages <<

    I've never worked for a company where the wages of IT made up that much of the overall wage budget, not even close. I'm pretty sure that the entire IT budget (hardware, software services etc) was never equivalent to more than 5% of the wage budget. (In one case, I was the only IT person for a company with 400 plus staff).

    But perhaps that's just the businesses that I've worked for?

    The other thing of course is who the ONS are categorising as "IT workers"; if we have 20 staff sat in front of a PC all day entering sales orders, I would say that they are not IT workers.

    But the point is well made - as more people gain knowledge, the scarcity value drops and the cost of hiring that skill drops accordingly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: damned statistics

      "But the point is well made - as more people gain knowledge, the scarcity value drops and the cost of hiring that skill drops accordingly."

      This belief ... is in one sentence why the salary range between average / good developers and brilliant ones is as wide as it is. The average/good ones think it's about gaining knowledge, the brilliant ones know that it's what you do with that knowledge that is the differentiation in salary. Unfortunately as the ability to be a brilliant developer seemingly has more to do with the wiring of the brain than with anything learnt from books the average / good ones never figure it out and complain that IT doesn't pay as well as it should...

      Actually properly valuable developers come in at someone around 1 per every 200, if that. The rest are basically a commodity. When companies get one they tend to be prepared to pay them the earth to make sure they don't leave, actually making the inverse of what you said true in many cases.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nortel pensions?!

    "my lawyer wife has joined the Nortel bankruptcy fight over my pitiful pension “because it’s technically interesting”.

    Good for her. And sympathy to the rest of the pensioners, some of whom had been led to expect something rather larger than "pitiful", either from Nortel or from the Pension Protection Fund.

    Please can we have an article or three on this subject. Doesn't have to be frequent, as nothing much ever seems to be changing.

    Given that there are forty thousand or more Nortel UK pensioners (and then add their families where applicable), it would be of interest to far more people than (say) the bankruptcy of 2e2.

  9. a pressbutton

    So if IT salaries are converging towards the mean

    What is diverging positively?

  10. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    Never extrapolate a curve close to a turning point

    My extrapolation? The range of salaries will spread.

    1. An IT screw up can already sink your business. And the amount and importance of IT in our lives keeps increasing. Managers haven't yet adapted to that. But those that don't, will find themselves with plenty of time for golf.

    2. The golden age of casual programmers is passing. You can't really knock up a spreadsheet or VisualBasic on a mobile device. So while, under Microsoft, we all had to learn to tinker; that's no longer the case. If your employees needs an app they won't be able to cobble it together themselves. And so the most talented won't be able to make the jump to "IT"

    3. The Increasing complexity of IT is going to take it out of the hands of people who don't know their stuff. The days when you can design a web site by knowing some HTML, and being able to cut and paste PHP, have already passed.

    So good programmers will start to become more valuable. Hey, I can dream.

    1. ChrisBoy

      Re: Never extrapolate a curve close to a turning point

      I (hope and) think maybe you're right, although my own experience suggests that the golden age of casual programming is not yet passed. I'm certain that your points 1 and 3 will prove your point 2, but it's not a universal truth quite yet.

      Upvote because I'm a dreamer and eternal optimist as well :-)

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Re: Never extrapolate a curve close to a turning point

        Thanks Chris. On reflection I should have titled the post "the golden age of casual programmers is passing". And put it thus: currently we have a continuum of casual users, powers users/casual programmers, and "serious" programmers. The gaps are opening up between those catergories because of point 1, point 3 and the mobile "revolution". And managers will stop trying to turn power users into programmers and pay programmers appropriately...

        1. ChrisBoy

          Re: Never extrapolate a curve close to a turning point

          Nicely put, another big ol' thumbs-up! Next management meeting I attend, I need somebody like you with me ;-)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, but only if there are real consequences for 'IT Pollution'...

      "The Increasing complexity of IT is going to take it out of the hands of people who don't know their stuff"

      If the tech industry was a washing machine, that same machine would leak every other week and chew-up clothes when not leaking, but we could compensation! The real-world tech industry has been saturated in poor quality control since its very origin but with little consequence. If tech was the Energy or Chemical sector, and we leaked something nasty, then we'd have to pay huge penalties. But the tech world isn't perceived the same way, as the harm isn't perceived as 'real'! That means it only makes good economics to kick out bad code indefinitely! By logical conclusion -> we can hire bad programmers forever!

      But oh how I wish you were right B.A.G. Certainly 'people who don't know their stuff' can lead to big IT screw-ups, whether or not it involves outsourcing or cloudy services, and things could change but IF and ONLY IF....

      ...Penalties for data leaks / privacy breaches become harsh.

      .....Down-Time becomes expensive for Online Services, Cloud service providers, App Hosters etc.

      The problem is penalties for IT screw-ups don't exist. Every week some new cross-site scripting or SQL injection attack is discovered. Sure there's embarrassment, but there's no fatal financial hit! For example, in a Reg article yesterday it was revealed that a games company was responsible for including Malware with its updates. What were the Penalties? You guessed it-- None!

      Politicians aren't clued in enough to regulate these types of problems, so behaviour doesn't change. Instead its always a case of: what's the cheapest way we can get our business online? Ok, lets go with them.... What? ... What?.. We were hacked??? Oh shit... Do we have to own up? Yes, well ok, lets wait a while though until things quiet down.... Then we'll offer to provide free-credit checking or something lame!

      The problem too is if you're a business there's no clear-cut quality control or Ratings-Agency that says this piece of code is better than that piece, this outsourcer is better than that one, or this cloudy service is superior.... So its easy for talented salesmen to sell IT services but then hire below par programmers who just rob bad code, make ill-advised changes, provide up and down survives and still stay in business... After all the business is locked-in at that point!

      There's some memorable screw-ups on this link below. How many of the companies involved actually went bust? None! they just passed the costs onto their customers... BTW: RBS / Ulster Bank is not on there, but of course they're still in business... And recent CLOUDY SERVICE screw-ups aren't on there either AWS / MS etc, but we shouldn't forget them either....

      The 25 costliest tech screw-ups of all time

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        @Anon 12th April 2013 14:24 GMT

        Anon, as it happens, I had just read this arXiv article which includes a few bankruptcies (KMart, Auto Windscreens) and at least one other case (Airbus) that should be included in that top 25. Then there's the Knight Capital Group August 2012 trading error that cost $400E6 (saved by the skin of their teeth). We might as well add Universal Credit to the list (do Ladbrokes let you bet on these things failing?) And dodgy tech (NT4) was fingered as hindering the Norwegian Police's response to that awful massacre. If these problems keep happening, keep getting bigger, then eventually they're going to be unignorable and something will have to change. That was point 1.

        I'm not sure how more regulation will solve this. We already have Data Protection legislation. Perhaps it needs more teeth, and more funding for the ICO. I would be in favour of legislation mandating the disclosure of all hacks. Maybe we ought to require people selling stuff on .uk domains to have their site certified as standing up to metasploit. (Won't someone think of the children?! Particularly, little Bobby Tables.) And if selling software containing malware is not illegal, then it certainly should be.

        But outsourcing woes are just management problems. Research your supplier and don't trust promises from salesmen that ain't written into the contract. However you have my sympathy if you've been stuffed by a gullible manager.

    3. xj25vm

      Re: Never extrapolate a curve close to a turning point

      While your point 1. does make sense, I'm afraid I can only partially agree with point 2. and point 3. And by partially, I actually mean "not agree much at all".

      First, your example about employees not being able to create mobile apps? Well, I don't think that has much relevance in the long term. We are talking about a new and emerging technology, which has been around for much shorter period of time than the rest of the industry. You choose to extrapolate from that? Are you sure the mobile app development market will look the same in 5-10 years time - and it will be just as inaccessible as it is now to people with lesser technical skills? I'm not sure at all. Not if you look back at what the history of computing has to teach us.

      Secondly - your point 3 about the increasing complexity of IT - in a sense, it would be nice if that was the case - if the complexity of IT would bring more of the work into the hands of specialists. While it is true that there are plenty of fields in IT where one has to truly know one's stuff to make it - you neglect to take into account the fact that while IT has increased in complexity nonetheless over the years - a lot of that complexity has been moved deeper and deeper into the bowels of the beast - away from users and power users. IT has been on a path to "democracy" so to speak pretty much since its inception. Where are the "specialists" in long coats reigning over the data room - as gods supreme? Do you still require an engineer (or a team of them) to install a printer or a scanner for you? No - and the reason is because a lot of this technology has been simplified at the interface level sufficiently for even average users to handle it themselves - even if they don't understand what is under the hood/bonnet. And things are continuing relentlessly in that direction.

      As to your web design example - I'm not sure where you've been the last 5-10 years - but you've obviously never heard of WordPress, or any of the other frameworks/templates based tools. Yes - you could say that people who don't know proper web design will end up with insecure Wordpress installations, or that a template based website is not a substitute for a proper, professional version. And that just installing a Wordpress site doesn't make one a web designer. And you would be right. But did we have tools available in '99 for an average user to get an interactive, database driven, dynamic content website up and going without advanced knowledge? Ten years ago anybody would have been shocked if they were shown a Wordpress website from today (specially one with a tasteful theme) and be told that somebody with virtually no webdesign expertise has put it together.

      For good or for worse - that's where the world is going. Not back to the good old days when technical experts were scarce and paid in gold. Yes - like in any industry - true experts will still be able to command wages above their peers and be in demand no matter where the industry is going - within reason. The rest is just daydreaming. And I am working in this industry, and I am and will be affected by it every day - but that's just the way it is.

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge


        You're actually making my point. At one time any smart person who used a computer for any length of time became a casual programmer. The ever increasing simplification prevents that happening - that's the gap opening up between powers users and ordinary consumers. At the same time, the complexity and importance of IT is driving "real programming" away from the hands of the power users.

        The point about mobile programming is a bit deus ex machina ("but something else might come along to save the status quo"). Wrapping a web page in phonegap is not beyond the grasp of a power user now. But our expectations of technology are increasing faster than the simplification process. I started programming in assembly and, at that time, I could write a whole product myself in a few weeks; I couldn't do that now. In 2001 I wrote my own blog software; but these days the sophistication I demand is beyond my spare time and, as you say, wordpress is solid. The day when macros ruled the world and every computer user could program are fading.

        Of course the corollary of my speculation is is there will be less programmers and less programming.

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Never extrapolate a curve close to a turning point

      Not good programmers - good software engineers who have specialist knowledge of a commercial or technical subject.

      I am not the best programmer, nor the worst, but I am about to retire to part time consultancy because I know how, in a particular industry, to design stuff that gets shit done.

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge


        Ribosome, I had that in mind in point 3. Although, as any "good" programmer knows, it's just a question of selecting the correct values of "good." But as someone who has wielded boost's MPL in anger, I do take the point.

        Out of interest, when you finish consulting where will the new consultants come from? Is there a pipeline all the way do to graduates?

        Anyway, I hope enjoy you enjoy your part-time retirement.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Connor have you ever considered writing for the Daily Mail, with your 'Everyone be petrified, foreboding doom is just around the corner' writing style, you'd fit right in!

    Also the bit about 'Women are the future'. I bloody wish.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      He didn't mention that working with computers will give you cancer. Although he did bring up how IT jobs are being shifted to india.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "IT jobs are being shifted to india

        I love IT jobs being shifted to india, it means more screw ups for me to to clean up and fix for a hefty fee!

  12. Buzzword

    What's next?

    This leaves two questions:

    1) What fast-growing industry would you recommend to school-leavers today?

    2) What should those of us left in IT do to protect our wages?

    As for #1, it seems obvious that youngsters should steer clear of IT if they want a (financially) rewarding career.

    But #2 is less clear. Is now the time to take a permie position in a government department, safe in the knowledge that your wage will never fall? Or should we branch out, learn lots of skills, and try to find ways to use them all in our day jobs so as to keep our CVs looking good? Or just progress up to management and spend all day shouting at the poor folk who were too foolish to ignore #1 ?

    1. Aldous

      Re: What's next?

      1. whatever they feel comfortable doing and pays enougth for the qaulity of life they expect. go do media studies(if you like it) if you are prepared for minimum wage afterwards but don't moan if you expect a massive salary afterwards.

      Likewise don't do something you hate because it has good money as chances are you will get through uni/training and a few years before you either quit it or settle for a lower level due to people who genuinly love the field (and more likely to do stuff towards furthering career) being better then you.

      IT subjects in uni (Comp sci, networking,game design, comp sec) are stuffed to the gills in the first year and then come down to a handful in the final as many people get bored as it is not what they want to do.

      2. Make yourself useful and learn. it outstands me when i was temping talking to people at a car plant that was due to close who's attitude was "i have screwed the same 4 bolts into a car for 10 years i can't do anything else, ever". does not even have to be technical, language skills are good, you could even retrain completly one guy i knew from said car plant became a music teacher and is making more then he did before doing what he loves.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What's next?


        2. Make yourself useful and learn. it outstands me when i was temping talking to people at a car plant that was due to close who's attitude was "i have screwed the same 4 bolts into a car for 10 years i can't do anything else, ever". does not even have to be technical, language skills are good, you could even retrain completly one guy i knew from said car plant became a music teacher and is making more then he did before doing what he loves.


        Dude, I agree but for fuck's sake, I had to read this 5 times to understand it.

    2. Corinne

      Re: What's next?

      I wouldn't recommend a permie job in a government department if you can get anything else. Yes your wage might not actually drop, but it will be pretty shite to start with & not go up. The pension may look decent (though not as good as it used to be by a long way) in percentage terms, but 50% of shite isn't that great in the long run. Don't forget there are things that are considered standard "perks" in private industry that you don't get in government jobs either, you even have to pay for your own tea & coffee, and supply your own mugs & spoons.

      And there isn't the job security there used to be; chances are the job will be outsourced to someone like Capita or IBM, your job will be TUPE'd over, and 2 years later you'll be redundant because they've moved the function to India (or Mauritias, or Eastern Europe, or the far east).

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: What's next?

        Outsourced to Capita? I wish! I'm a contractor with E working as a subcontractor to H working as a subcontractor to Capita as a subcontractor to my local council.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Find a company with the lamest, dumbest-ass tech guys in the world...

      "2) What should those of us left in IT do to protect our wages?"

      Find a company with the lamest, dumbest-ass tech guys in the world... Think spiralling IT budgets way out of control and critical biz apps years behind expectations.... Then speak to the frustrated business heads... Ask them what they wanted? What they got? What they didn't get? They'll create a picture for you that's akin to the famous tech cartoon for the tree swing. Do a web image search on 'tree swing, what the customer got' if you're not familiar.

      Then ask yourself, can your skill-set create band-aids around the problems? Can you add any value right now up-front? If the answer is yes, then honestly tell the business leaders what you can do, and see if they sell the job to you!! My advice is forget recruiters, forget HR and job-sites, go direct to people screaming out for expertise. Otherwise IT pay will always be brutally and unfairly capped. There's something about corporate IT in particular where budgets and bums-on-seats means that often the rewards go to mediocre! This pulls down IT wages overall, and crucifies the really productive people IMHO!

  13. TwoWolves

    Not worth it anymore

    It takes a lot of hard work and determination to become a good developer. You need to be well motivated and self-study in your free time - a lot.

    Employers don't want to pay for this, they want cheap because it looks good on paper.

    Simply put, it just doesn't seem worth the effort anymore and that's dangerous for the industry because the same rot is affecting the developers in India now (where everyone want's to be a project manager).

    I'm about to start a new contract gig and they are paying every developer the same rate. Somehow I doubt we will all be as productive or as knowledgeable.

  14. William Donelson

    Austerity Kills Demand

    Austerity kills demand. Without demand, no company will invest.

    Tories and Republicans are addicted to the rich.

    Austerity only benefits the top 2-5% of society.

    Never vote Tory or Republican.

    1. The First Dave

      Re: Austerity Kills Demand

      Never vote for a Party that tells you that they alone have all of the answers...

      1. wowfood

        Re: Austerity Kills Demand

        So never vote for anyone.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Austerity Kills Demand

      Or don't vote Labour/Democrat as they spend more than they take in. This is really bad business practice and causes massive crashes every couple of decades.

      This lot of Republicans and Tories, however, are doing a really crap job of sorting it...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Austerity Kills Demand

        "Or don't vote Labour/Democrat as they spend more than they take in. This is really bad business practice and causes massive crashes every couple of decades."

        That is very true. The problem is that, here is America, the ONLY party that, prior to 2008, did NOT overspend WAS Democrat. Every Republican administration since 1980 spent into a deficit: provable fact.

        But yet, it is the (American) Republicans that constantly claim to be Practically Perfect in Every Way (tm) and try to stake the high ground when the issue of "overspending" is discussed.

        And, so, here we all are. Recessed, depressed, in debt. Amongst the largest population wealth disparity in recent history. And the right wing still trying to deny their own provable history with propaganda, propaganda that some people blindly believe rather than looking up factual history.

        Strange world we live in.

    3. theblackhand

      Re: Austerity Kills Demand

      While austerity kills demand, this is a very one dimensional view of the economy as it doesn't take into account the state of a countries finances.

      As certain countries are showing, you can't just keep running large deficits and hoping that things will get better, at some point you have to live within your means.

      It would be nice to think that politicians would be able to discuss public expenditure in rational terms, but based on the UK where a government running some of the highest budget deficits in recent memory in order to maintain the growth in public sector spending can be demonised for making such severe cuts, I'm not optimistic.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Austerity Kills Demand

      "Austerity only benefits the top 2-5% of society."

      It benefits at least the top 50% of society that actually contributes to the state.

      Don't vote Labour unless you are a freeloading, benefit scrounging chav or immigrant....

      Don't forget it was Labour that left us in this mess....

    5. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Austerity Kills Demand

      > Austerity kills demand.

      That's so much bullshit that it must come from the Labour anal region.

      Unless you mean Austerity = "reduced government spending, higher taxes" instead of "extremely reduced government spending, lower taxes", which is what's happening now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Austerity Kills Demand

        Outsourcing also kills demand.

        We make a finite amount of money in this country, a lot of that money is spent by companies and corperations. These companies shift their products to people in the UK, this is good. These companies outsource their jobs to china and india, this is not good.

        Effectively we have a one way system in may places. Money gets made inside the country, and spent outside the country.

        In certain markets this is all well and good, It's what internationalism and the free-market is all about. But now it's happening to more and more industries it's leaving the country stripped bare, imagine a garden. You pick a few flowers but then you plant a few seeds. You always have flowers in the garden. This is an economy that gives back.

        Now you pick flowers, but you don't plant any seeds, and instead you plant them in a different garden. Eventually the first garden is going to be a barren wasteland. This is what's currently happening.

        If we as a country want to build ourselves out of debt, austerity isn't the way. A more internalised economy is. Give companies incentives to hire from inside the UK rather than going to china. If we can make something here or buy it from zimbabwe for 4p cheaper, make it here, create more jobs, and keep the local economy going.

        We survived hundereds of years on an internal based economy, shipping in what we needed, not what we wanted. It's only when we started going after the cheapest deal, rather than the neccessary deal that we began to slip.

        1. Ant Evans

          Re: Austerity Kills Demand

          The idea that an 'internalised economy' is good is called mercantilism. It is wrong. It was debunked roughly 230 years ago by Smith and Ricardo.

          Being a good problem solver means, in the long term, being driven to learn. You're not looking so hot on this criterion.

          On the other hand, you're doing better than the guy who wanted to rewrite it without variables. That is not even wrong, to borrow from the great Wolfgang Pauli.

          Still chuckling about that. Sheer genius.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Austerity Kills Demand

            Not saying we should go quite to the extremes of Mercantilism. But to take elements of it wouldn't hurt. The idea that country A specializes in item one, and country b item 2, causing high value for either commodoity leading to trade makes perfect sense.

            I wouldn't dare imagine the UK would start making electronics and stop buying from china, it'd be absurd. the price gap is simply too high.

            Merely that with other commodities, where the percieved difference in value isn't quite as high, it would make more sense to internalize. Likewise the numbe of jobs being offshored. To take from an ICT perspective, I've spoken to a number of people who work for companies who offshored their programming work to India.

            The code they got back wasn't to standards, didn't match the functional specs, and was generally sub-par at best. In each of these instances teh company then had to hire contractors in the UK to fix this debunked code, whcih then cos tthem more than originally intended. By saving a few thousand in one area, they cost themselves tens of thousands in another.

            Not only that, I don't even think we shoudl force companies to stay here, but there are so many things we could do to encourage them to stay. As a few small examples

            Corperations Tax, We charge a rather high amount (to my understanding) most of which the big companies don't even bother paying, leading to problems for smaller companies. Lop a chunk off of corperation tax and the estimated gross income would drop. BUT we would attract more businesses to stay, and others to come over to the UK. This would lead to a boost in the number of people paying the tax. 20% of 100, vs 15% of 150.

            These are perfectly reasonable changes which would lead more companies to come back to the UK, leading to an increase in the internal economy while still maintaining external relations where needed.

            Does that make any sense?

            As a way to sum it up better. The UK has priced itself out of the market in almost every respect, taxes, rent, taxes on rent, taxes on paycheque, taxes on bills, taxes on taxes. If we could lower the amount paid on certain taxes, or limit the number of times they're added on (because taxes on taxes is just silly) we could make ourselves more competative for businesses to set up shop here once more.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Austerity Kills Demand

              This "low tax economy" of which you ramble.

              Have you heard of a country called Ireland?

              Did you know they tried the "low tax, light touch regulation" magick?

              Where are they now?

              Have you heard of a country called Germany, who traditionally have relied on investment (in training, product design, etc)? I gather even in Germany the neoliberal madness is risking the country's economic future, but they've still got time to look at what it's done to the rest of the world and turn round.

              "I wouldn't dare imagine the UK would start making electronics and stop buying from china, it'd be absurd. the price gap is simply too high."

              Raspberry Pi. Made in Wales. At the same cost as it was being made in China. Have a read.


              Need a few more like that. They exist, if you know where to look.

  15. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    And woe betide if you don't have *exactly* that specific version of the language they want.

    Either what the system was developed in or the system they want it re-developed in usually.

    And remember

    In the wrong environment you can be get carpeted for not using the GOTO statement (that's not an UL).

    1. CollyWolly

      Re: And woe betide if you don't have *exactly* that specific version of the language they want.

      I think this a problem of the recruitment industry, and the idiots that it employs. I am sure there is a better alternative than these idiots that are capable of matching two keywords in a search, and talking shite on the phone for half an hour to cover up for the crap salary they are trying to get you interviewed for.

      1. Dave 15

        Re: And woe betide if you don't have *exactly* that specific version of the language they want.

        If only it were just the recruitment industry, if it was then going direct to the company would be useful. Unfortunately it is not just the recruitment industry, it is the companies as well. They don't want people who can do the job, they want people that rick every single tick box exactly with nothing left out and nothing too much, and then of course they have to be the cheapest possible. Red-gate are recruiting in Cambridge, but have exactly a tick box culture.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And woe betide if you don't have *exactly* that specific version of the language they want.

          If only it were just the recruitment industry, if it was then going direct to the company would be useful.

          How often have you known of a role to be pushed out without going through the (dubious value) recruitment industry. Even roles where you get in the door via an internal contact frequently have to be pushed through an agency to "follow process."

          Few hiring managers have the ability to work outside the arcane rules and requirements set by HR and almost all rely on the erratic practices of the various agencies.

          (Anon cos I want to find future work........)

          1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: And woe betide if you don't have *exactly* that specific version of the language they want.

            You have SquiggleBlob 3.31? Sorry, we need somebody with SqiggleBlob 3.32. Bugger off.

  16. TheOtherHobbes

    In fact

    there's a genuine bias against practical cleverness throughout AngloSaxon business culture.

    Basically you get paid more for being a good political bullshitter, and preferably a manipulative one (sales, law, marketing, board-level management) than for being good at something useful.

    This wasn't always true. But it's certainly true now, and becoming increasingly true.

    What will happen, inevitably, is that Western businesses will survive only as long as the next financial market implosion, and Far East businesses will take over - because they have a tradition of intense practice-oriented education, and management is more likely to be both competent and ambitious (if often as greedy and corrupt as Western management.)

    Western corps are struggling in China because the home-grown competition is a tough challenge. It's only a matter of time before austerity - which is just another example of manudjment idiocy - kills the West, and the Far East steps in to pick up the pieces.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: In fact


      Western companies are struggling in China because the protectionist Chinese government hamstrings them immeasurably, in fact most successful foreign businesses over there are JVs with a 'local partner' (ie, someone who can navigate the bullshit bureaucracy with bribes and guanxi) purely for this reason. How can Facebook for example, compete with a local rival when the government outright bans Facebook? Nothing to do with business culture, everything to do with the Chinese government not allowing free market economics.

      If you think businesses in China are utopian meritocracies, you are deluded! They are just as much run by poisonous, back stabbing, game playing types as the businesses over here, in fact probably more so!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: In fact

        Not allowing free market economics? The clue is in the name "Chinese Communist Party"...

    2. uncredited

      Re: In fact

      "there's a genuine bias against practical cleverness throughout AngloSaxon business culture."

      If only that were true only with AngloSaxon business culture! I live and work in Scandinavia and here practical cleverness is frowned up on just as much as anywhere, probably even more. Companies much prefer a silent yes-man that will patch things up with duct-tape and chewing gum rather than solve the real problem at hand.

  17. TimChuma

    I could comment more if I had any work recently

    My agency won't even call me to see how I am going. I used to get catapulted into roles with a day or less notice and expected to work. It was the same sort of work all the time, but at least I had something to do and would do it like a relentless bulldozer, even finishing ahead of time when it would cost me money a couple of times.

    I am still looking for work though and have tried applying for non IT roles, but I never seem to hear back from them.

    No love for MS Access? It is a good starting point for learning MS SQL Server and you can use it as a front end for server applications. I do remember going through two thick books on the application (the second one was mainly office automation stuff.) I did even support a site that used MS Access for the web database, but updated it to SQL Server.

    Never really got into .NET and these days a lot of roles want iOS and HTML 5 and stuff that hasn't even been around for more than a couple of years. Also whenever I see it, I have to say "Dispatch War Rocket AJAX, to bring back his body!"

    The most training I have had in the past couple of years was two days training in a content management system so I could do administration tasks in the back end. It was from the official support company for the CMS though.

    I am most concerned about the rate of superannuation going up from 9% to 12% in the next few years, meaning sneaky people will make it sound like you are getting more money when the rate includes super. I try to get an ex. super quote when I am applying for roles.

    My rate hasn't really gone up by a large amount in the past few years, will have to start asking for a bit more even in the content roles. I have tried applying for more senior positions but I never seem to get them. One of the team managers on a project decided to just go back to migrating content for some reason and we never found out why.

  18. The BigYin


    That circa £37k. Really? In what bloody universe? If you tell me, I'll move there to get the pay raise (not the annual 2% cut I've been suffering).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: £718pw?

      Ditto for me. When I started looking for work out of uni the average wage offered was 16k. I could have gotten a job that paid more than that by working at my local Aldi store. I'm now on what's considered a very good wage for my local area. Still only 20k, of my friends and family I am the highest earner at 20k bar one person who's management by means of he's been working at the company 25 years. He gets piad roughly the above wage.

      Even on 20k though, after tax that doesn't actually cover the cost of living in my local area.

      1. Doozerboy

        Re: £718pw?

        Skewed by London salaries no doubt.

        I'd love to leave London and move back up north, but unless i can find a remote working gig, then i'm here for good unless i take a big pay cut, or move abroad.

        Someone i know is doing a remote working gig in the city. £500 a day, and he's doing it from Budapest. To say he's saving some serious cash is an understatement.....

      2. Dave 15

        Re: £718pw?

        West Country by any chance? I'd love to move there, I look at the jobs, look at the wages offered and laugh. I don't know where the west country companies get their people, but the wages they offer are a joke. Normally below minimum wage, certainly way way way below what you could get on benefits, and guaranteed you couldn't live on the wage - even in a beech hut.

        1. The BigYin

          Re: £718pw?

          "West Country by any chance?"

          Nup. Central England. It's a joke. I've looked for new jobs (not too fussed on location) and it's all the same. I'd be better off driving trains or something.

          1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

            Re: £718pw?

            " I'd be better off driving trains or something."

            Have you seen what train drivers make?

            1. Mike Flex

              Re: £718pw?

              "Have you seen what train drivers make?"

              £33-47k pa and never a segfault to be seen.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: £718pw?

                Even better than that if you're a tube driver, plus you have probably the only union left with any influence. Although Bob Crow is overpaid and pretty unreasonable with his demands.

                1. CodeMonkery

                  Re: £718pw?

                  The real problem is that IT jobs have become just another job at the bottom of the management chain, where your manager absolutely has to earn more than their managed employees. So in a company with a low wage culture, the IT Pro will slot in at the bottom run with a salary to match.

                  OTOH I've come across some IT Managers and wondered how on earth they were allowed to keep their jobs!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: £718pw?

          Yup westcountry. And you couldn't afford to live in a beach hut. Those things are going for over £100,000 still. But yeah you were bang on the money.

          Right now I live in Weymouth, the place offering 16k was in bournemouth. The average wage down here is minimum for the vast majority of jobs.

      3. xj25vm

        Re: £718pw?

        The comparison with supermarket jobs is not always a fair or realistic one. Yes - when fresh out of uni - I was led to believe as well that I deserved dizzying heights of remuneration. However - if you stop a minute and look from the perspective of the employers as well - you will notice that in a less skilled job, the employee will reach their peak performance quicker and provider a quicker return to the company - with far less investment in training from the employer. However, in a more complex and skilled role - and that is specially true for IT, where many times university leavers have very little practical experience and thus their productivity is low - people will effectively spend years learning on the job. Thus their productivity is very low to begin with. I have clients in other industries a well (i.e. accountancy) - and they make the same observation about people they hire. Fresh school/uni leavers might have high wage expectations - but they are very inefficient when compared to experienced people and it takes good many years to get up to that speed.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: £718pw?

        Reminds me of speaking to friends in the USA. When I left Uni and was only finding jobs paying £16k my american friends who were also leaving uni (in america) were looking at starting wages in the 50-60k range. Double the wage, (more than that actually) and living costs were virtually identical.

      2. The BigYin

        Re: £718pw?

        "It would seem everyone in the universe you're looking for speaks Norwegian."

        Hold on there, I've got enough issue with English! :-)

        Actually, picking up a second language and exiting the UK seems to be the only real option.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: £718pw?

      That's pretty much where I am right now one one job (£36,000 pa).

      officially a contractor but seeing as the original contract was for 3 months (6 years ago) I may as well be permanent staff, they take the view that since I know their systems and business inside out and it would take at least 18 months for anyone else to get their head around much more than the basics of the system in place it's cheaper.

      of course as a contractor I am free to take on other work as I see fit, this usually nets somewhere around another £25,000 per year,

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: £718pw?

        £36k pa as a contractor?, i'd suggest trying to renegotiate! that is pretty low for contracting, even if you consider yourself permanent, if your that important to their system, your worth more!

        (I know how low some people pay though, my first programming job around 2000 was £9.5k a year! and they considered us poor value for money!!!!)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: £718pw?

          for that 36k I average between 2.5 - 3 days work per week (9AM - 4PM).

          if I were to put the rates up they would probably get me to start training up a replacement team in foreign climes.

          Bear in mind that I still have plenty of spare time and do other projects which brings in a reasonable amount.

          My worst paid job...

          3 months of 18 hour days, 7 days a week for 25% of a UK based ISP (that launched 3 days after freeserve) 25% of £0.00 = £0.00

          worst failure...

          working for another company and doing around £15k of work for them each month, they were always erratic with payments (could be 3 days could be 6 weeks to get the money for a project, mainly because they paid me when the client paid them) they ended up going bust owing me around £35k

          the way they did it was sneaky... they set up a new company (new directors etc) the new company bought the old companies assets (at market value) then the original company changed name, the new company took the old companies name and the old company went bust (while the new company with the old name carried on trading.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: £718pw?

            me again (same AC as above)

            another reason I don't go mad chasing higher valued jobs or charging higher rates is because I am living comfortably on what I earn, have a fairly healthy savings balance (for rainy days) and am generally happy with how my life is right now.

  19. disgruntled yank

    distinct languages

    " Note I say distinct languages. Try for an Oracle SQL job only knowing MS SQL server and see how far you get."

    I am much more familiar with PL/SQL than I am with T-SQL, and have what I consider a justified preference for its features. I write T-SQL only when necessary, always to enhance or another system my employer has bought our inherited. But though I am sure that a true T-SQL guru would find points to complain of in some of the procedures and functions I have written, I can say that they are better than others that I have seen written by persons whose regular job it was to turn it out.

    If I had an Oracle job open here, I might well hire a smart T-SQL coder, and invest in the training.

  20. Dave 15

    Languages? Its not just that

    Try moving from embedded code to banking, or insurance, or UI, indeed any other branch of software. As a manager or a programmer. No, the boss of HBOS can f***** the bank and get a better paid job at a chemist shop, the guy in charge of the home office can move to education or whatever, but you can't move from one branch of software to another... not just a change of language but also a slight change of type of software and you will be blocked (just have been as a matter of fact... and the change wasn't even very big).

    Then there is the money. Frankly what we are paid now is pathetic compared to when I started, in the last 10 years my pay has fallen, not just in 'real terms' but in actual cash terms. (Companies fold making you redundant, then try replacing the job with one at the same rate... no can do). Most of our work is shipped off to the cheapest possible place regardless of lost quality or copyright problems (just as our manufacturing was).

    What would you advise your kids? As a girl I would suggest she puts on a short skirt, flashes her cleavage and pretends to be a singer, for a boy I have no idea - probably just grow half a beard and be an 'actor'. It is sad that the people who make money in the UK, europe and USA are pop singers, actors, the already rich (lucky choice of parents), and 'football stars'. Pretty much no one else can make it at all - regardless of hardwork or skill.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Languages? Its not just that

      I disagree. Skilled professionals can adapt and learn new languages really quickly. If you're an expert at T-SQL I find it ridiculous to think that you won't be able to write in ms-sql or oracle-sql, as dirty as it would make you feel while doing it. Ditto for programming languages. Languages are tools after all.

      Skilled workers use many tools and are comfortable picking up something new and running with it. And good companies actively seek people like this.

      1. TwoWolves

        Re: Languages? Its not just that

        The point he's making is that having learnt the new skill the really hard part is getting hired. Managers demand prior experience, end of.

      2. Dave 15

        Re: Languages? Its not just that

        The point is not that skilled professionals can't adapt - they can, indeed I have over the years learnt new languages (even swapping over to object oriented when the company I worked for decided to give it a try). YET try applying for a job writing C# if you've got C++ on your CV... you won't get an invitation to interview far less a job offer. The point is that at some level (and I don't know what defines this) it is considered that skills are transferable from one field to another... but that level is far far far higher than the average engineer, project manager or even engineering manager

        1. ChrisBoy

          Re: Languages? Its not just that

          In fact, try your luck getting a Java job through an agency if you've got Java on your CV... I'd bet on having to politely bat away half a dozen Javascript jobs first ;-)

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Languages? Its not just that

      Software is a specialist skill. Management is not considered so (it is more about the politics and networking). So moving between software domains is not quite the same. We've had some people move from applications to embedded. Where is the RAM to implement my code, they ask.

      The problem with saying something is in short supply is that it is relative. I guess 20 years ago, SW was less diversified, and the skill base was small. Come the internet, open source and cheaper computers, and programming ain't like nuclear science anymore.

      Software has also massively diversified and has become specialised, and with globalisation, I think specialisation is becoming a requirement. But then picking some to specialise in is always a gamble.

      PS: @Dave 15 According to you, if you aren't a millionaire or better, you haven't made it. That's BS. Grow up.

      1. Dave 15

        Re: Languages? Its not just that

        Moving from software domain to software domain is entirely possible for a reasonable engineer. True there will be those who don't understand that ram can be somewhat more limited in an embedded field (but frankly nothing like it used to be anyway). Software is a specialist skill, but I would argue a good engineer can engineer a good bank application or an embedded application, and can certainly move between the two.

        As to the last bit of your comment, maybe being a millionaire is a poor indication of 'making it' but I have yet to find a better one. Certainly it seems ridiculous that a singer who needs our software to tweak their voice so they are 'on pitch' can gain millions but the engineer that makes it possible for this is paid 30,000 a year and won't manage even one million in their life time. Are you really telling me that there are that many more people who can engineer such things than there are people who can sing flat and flash their legs/cleavage? I certainly don't believe so.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Languages? Its not just that

          Wasn't the chap who invented auto-tune a seismologist who worked for an oil company? Think he earned so much he'd retired before he even invented the thing.

        2. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Languages? Its not just that

          @dave15 "Good" engineers are rare and elusive creatures, they are inevitably well placed and well renumerated by the companies they work for. Short of those companies going out of business, they will be looked after. These engineers affect the company bottom line in a visible way. And if those sort of engineers do need work, hubs of innovation like the Silicon Valley beckon.

          This article is about the average engineer. And the hiring challenges companies face mean that the gamble of taking on an engineer that needs to make the switch is a big one. The only practical way I can think of is to take a pay cut when crossing domains.

          The software we make are again just tools. What people do with that is quite another matter. People make movies, music, art; there

          And your final statement actually adds to my point - there are so many who can flash their cleavage, success is all the more difficult. You make it sound like autotune software+boobs = $$$$. That is simply not true. Making it as a "singer" in a world of instant music, x-factor, celebrity mags requires a lot of effort, and its own set of "skills". The social value of these skills is a different discussion, one that could also extend to those programming for the banks as well!

          If an engineer is that good, and has got the knowledge to make something game changing, he or she ought to get into business.

          I'd say the equation is more about risk/reward. There are bursts where the risk is low and the reward high, but that never lasts.

          People and companies will flock to that anyway, and produce software that is turnkey and need fewer skilled engineers.

          Planning or expecting a low risk/high reward existence is silly. If such a things comes your way, milk it for sure, but to wish for it to last forever is pointless.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Languages? Its not just that

        > I guess 20 years ago, SW was less diversified, and the skill base was small.

        Nope once upon a time software was more diversified

        In college I couldn't get a job coding because I knew VMS and DOS - but business would have one of a dozen different mainframe/minis, or if they used PCs could have one of a dozen different databases, there was even a few Apple II based businesses.

        Now I can hire a high school student, they are going to be comfortable in Windows or Linux, they will be able to program in either C#/.net or c/c+/gcc.

        I have hired 18year olds with 5years of Linux sysadmin experience. Yes they don't have the professionalism of somebody with 30years of mainframe experience - but it does break the no experience=no job/no job = no experience bottleneck.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Languages? Its not just that

      It's even worse for most financial services roles, they "need" specific experience in their own particular arcane version of financial services. Skimming through non-technical roles being advertised at the moment (e.g. BA,PM, PMO) and you'll see the "requirement" for plenty of experience in Front Office Regulatory, Investment Banking, Asset Management, Fixed Income, Equity Derivatives.......

      I can sort of understand wanting a knowledge of a very specific area from a BA, but a project manager or PMO?

    4. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Re: Languages? Its not just that

      "What would you advise your kids? As a girl I would suggest she puts on a short skirt, flashes her cleavage and pretends to be a singer, for a boy I have no idea - probably just grow half a beard and be an 'actor'. "

      For a slightly more scientific approach you might look at what "shortage occupations" are listed by the UK govt. These are the things HMG is willing to fast track into the country.

      IIRC "Coded" welders are somewhat in demand but it's experience and apprenticeship, which means taking low pay up front.

      Just a thought.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Languages? Its not just that

        For a slightly more scientific approach you might look at what "shortage occupations" are listed by the UK govt. These are the things HMG is willing to fast track into the country.

        Not many of these paying very well (ignoring medical consultants), some are bizarre: such as skilled classical ballet dancers who have to meet oddly high standards for £20k a year and graphic designers doing 3D animation for £19,400.

        If there really is a shortage in these occupations, surely market forces should be pushing the salaries up.......

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Languages? Its not just that

      I disagree, at least in the contract market, I have taken jobs with missing skills, and won it on the interview, any job worth taking has interviewers who are more interested in how you think than if you know a specific technology inside out!

  21. Ascy

    Headhunter my arse

    You're a recruitment agent who's blatantly insecure about it and can't resist the opportunity to let the world know you may have some technical knowledge. Let it go man, let it go.

  22. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. Christian Berger

    It's the same in many areas

    It's the same in engineering. As an electrical engineers I find it hard to find jobs (outside of the defence industry). Companies often just don't advertise them.

    What you can easily get is jobs at slave labour companies which rent you out to a customer. They take nearly everybody, regardless of qualification, and alienate off the better ones.

    Then there are head hunters. So far all I've been having the chance to talk to were complete time wasters, turning a simple lookup into a multi-hour telephone game. Seriously I've been able to get more information while googling during the phone call than in the phone call itself. So far it's pointless as the jobs itself are quite random.

    There's also a huge spread of qualification in the engineering community. You can see that especially while you study. You have students who have built their own projects in the past and have an oscilloscope at home. Then you will have the ones who have no idea and just manage to pass the tests. In the end both are paid the same. I have seen employees actively destroying companies by their own incompetence, and they still got the same money as I.

    Competence is irrelevant in many companies, as they won't be able to judge you

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As a software tester...

    I find the bit at the bottom of the first page mildly offensive.

    I've been a happy software tester for 3 years and moved there from development by choice: Working in an agile environment means I am also a BA who goes on client site and does all the up front specification work before returning to the office to roll up my sleeves and write some automated tests, while communicating the requirements to developers.

    Hardly a job for those with no personal skills. :p

    1. fLaMePrOoF
      Thumb Up

      Re: As a software tester...

      Couldn't agree more.

      I started 'at the bottom' in testing in 2008 and since then my career, (as a 'permie'), and remuneration, has progressed rapidly.

      I've worked on countless fascinating projects for 5 major companies and today my weekly pre-tax income as a Test Engineer / Analyst is well over £800 (although without the Ferrari).

      Sure, there are the Accentures of this world who will work you to ill health for a pittance, but the 'Emperors New Clothes' that was the off-shoring 'revolution' has been largely called, decent contractors can still get £300-£500 / day, (in the south at least), and heaps of medium to large sized companies are bringing more and more of their testing in-house and offering excellent packages and career prospects for permies.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: As a software tester...

        i earn £801 and im not even a 'permie' . thumbed down

  25. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    35% *more*? Try 50% *less*.

  26. Jase 1

    What the hell is the relevance of the backup piece?

    I was happily reading and nodding along until the backup piece - did you actually read and digest the article you linked to or did the pretty chart just prove a point?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Do you really believe C# or Java will be career-enhancing skills until you retire? "

    Yes, it is unfortunately starting to look that way. Java is pretty much the new Cobol and best I can tell isn't going to go away anytime soon.

  28. fLaMePrOoF

    Good article but your comments on testing are WAY off the mark.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hits the nail on the head

    "Pay isn’t just driven by supply and demand but by a general feeling of what a job is worth".

    Damn straight. In other words, everything economists have been telling us about "the free market" is untrue. Bosses in the UK believe a programmer is worth about the same as a gardener or a bricklayer - after all, they do the same kind of work, don't they? Many of them would rather die than pay any software expert, no matter how skilled and experienced, as much as half their own salaries.

    When I was working at DEC - one of the kinder, more decent multinationals - we were always told at review time that "money doesn't motivate". To be more precise, it only seems to motivate those who already have far too much of it.

    For some background on the economics racket, consider reading "Economists and the Powerful: Convenient Theories, Distorted Facts, Ample Rewards" by Haring and Douglas.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Hits the nail on the head

      Pay isn’t just driven by supply and demand but by a general feeling of what a job is worth".

      Yah well, that sentence doesn't mean anything.

      "The roots of the equation are not only determined by the intersection of the curve with the 0 axis but also by the general shape of the polynomial."

      See how that works?

      Decision to hire and how to set the specific price level depends on marginal utility (ranking of the utility of the goods that will be bough), on whether you are swimming in cash or not, of whether you see a high risk in adding an expensive guy to the team or not, on whether you can fire later without too much fuss etc.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not fair

    The problem is, its way too hard to get rid of the crap people in IT. There are 2 or 3 people around my area that are on a pretty inflated wage, they do bugger all except the bare minimum of their job and refuse to help out anywhere else in the team. Yet they are able to keep their company car when they don't actually go anywhere other than the office, and their inflated wage.

    But there are 3 or 4 people in the office that work exceptionally hard, that know way more than their job description requires and are always helping out other teams. Their reward? well its an average wage at best and constant pay freezes, despite this FTSE 100 company emailing every year saying their profits are going strong in a difficult environment.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's not the crap people who bother me

      They are easy enough to weed out and, for all the government's protestations, getting rid of people is easy. It's the otherwise technically able people who think it's acceptable to have a well paid job, turn up ever day and go through the motions like they're entitled to it. These people all too often simply don't get noticed.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    No one has mentioned the people who sort out the technical system problems. In my experience many developers/designers can find bugs in their own work - but can't think outside their specified interfaces. Their reaction is "well my bit works".

    In the "old days" people who could sort out why a system was misbehaving had practical experience in a wide range of hardware and software. The best ones also had an aptitude for what used to be called lateral thinking - when facts pointed to the "impossible".

    In later years the promising youngsters had worked out that their CVs looked better with very specific IT certifications. Those also gave them better pay and faster promotion. They were trained to a specific set of facts and responses.

    A good system troubleshooter is only valued for the last panic they sorted out. Otherwise they look like an unproductive overhead learning "irrelevant" things - who should be doing something useful like sweeping the floor.

  32. Jim 59

    IT is a big world. Although it doesn't say so, the article seems to be about software test & development only. Still good though.

    Salaries have been depressed, and how. 20 years of offshoring followed by 5 years of credit crunch saw to that. Blighty has been particularly slow to recover, maybe that accounts for the better salaries on offer abroad.

  33. RyuWonder

    I couldn't do it any longer

    ... So I became a teacher (no joke). It's good when you know you will receive a payrise each year and contribute to society.

  34. The Alpha Klutz

    find something not too difficult that kinda goes on for ever

    and do that. use beer to kill the brain cells you would need if you had a better job, and just remember that you cant take your money with you when you die

  35. JohnG

    The rot started after Y2K

    In my area of networking and telecommunications, the rot started after Y2K. All the manufacturers declared many of their slightly older products not compliant for Y2K, thereby forcing everyone to blow 5 years worth of their IT budgets on shiny new IT gear and the associated software upgrades. This meant that post Y2K, nobody needed anything new for a few years. It seemed to come as a surprise to manufacturers that Y2K was just a bubble and that they wouldn't be selling anything for a few years afterwards - so they started making people redundant in large numbers. Added to this was the ridiculous overspend on 3G licenses, leading to more redundancies at telcos. As the country was then knee deep in networking and telecoms people looking for work, rates plummeted. As far as I can tell, rates have not really recovered - if I returned to work in the UK now, I could expect contract rates about half of what I was paid in the mid-90s.

  36. OzBob

    Some expansion on supply and demand,..

    we are now no longer competing locally with local overheads, we are getting code cut and imported from overseas, where their living costs are significantly less. (Remember this guy? )

    True, with client facing jobs there is a need for a local face but my employer has a team spread across 3 cities and allows "work from home" quite regularly.

    Here in NZ, they have a 90 day rule, where you can be sacked with "no fault attributed". They reckon it encourages employers to take a punt on someone and gives an out if they turn out to be "test managers". What do you think?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Some expansion on supply and demand,..

      > What do you think?

      I support this. In largish companies you may fall prey to office politics, but then again, employees should leave those kind of outfits anyway I have seen dudes come in and mess things up in about a month. Think these should be kept on-team? Think they should be given "severance pay" when let go? Hell no.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ferrari owners?

    Anyone doing well for themselves on here i.e. actual Ferrari owners? There's got to some IT people that have done well out there... Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong etc...? Working on Trading Desks or similar... Any IT Ferrari owners want to share the secret of their success?

  38. Wardy01

    lol ... its the same old story .. a random email comes in that I never asked for because once upon a time I was looking for work some 5 years ago or something.

    So I think, ok this is vague but kind of down my street i'll give them a ring.

    I get the guy on the phone and immediately talk all technical to him about the type of code I write and how I need a company that works the way I do.

    I deliberately avoid words like "agile", and ".net" in favour of "iterative business applications using C#" in order to ensure that they know what I'm talking about.

    If I get the impression the agent on the phone isn't clued up at least partially I drop it there and then.

    I see people complaining about salaries and it reminds me of a conversation I had with my team last week at a regular lunch where the flow went something like this

    Me : ... I find getting work really easy, is it me or are general oop skills in demand at the moment?

    team: well the problem is that there are a lot of developers out there but few can write business apps

    Me : surely you test them right?

    team: oh yeh, we give them the usual "build something that does this" in the interview but those basic examples don't show you the flaws.

    team: yeh the issue is that you can't really confirm the difference between a programmer that can write code and and a programmer that cand build to business requirements in a couple of hours.

    Me : so how many people did you guys interview before you took me on?

    team: well we had about 150 CV's passed to us from the agency we dealt with, and only about 30 of those were even close to the job, after interviewing about 10 of those we could get rid of the obvious skill lacking candidates but then you end up with the people that can sell themselves not knowing if they can do the job.

    Me : Strange how there can be so much of a gap between "writing code" and "writing solutions that work".

    team: yeh, it seems natural to us, because that's what we do but these days you can get an MCPD on a 6 week course and universities seem to teach you how to do research and learn rather than how to be a good programmer.

    And here's where the penny drops ...

    A university degree is seemingly the "UK standard for determining level of knowledge" but I don't have a university degree, and I beat back the other 15 other candidates that were shortlisted in under 2 hours (i had the job in the time it took me to get home after the interview).

    How did I do it ...

    It's about proving that you're capable of more than citing textbooks or copy and paste from google search results, programmers that can think about and actually solve the problem are about 1 in 200 these days but the industry doesn't seem to have caught up with that yet.

    When the industry does, there will be a huge shift, demand will remain the same but the list of people that have proven ability will be easy to find thus stripping out those other 199 people in every job on offer.

    When that happens programmers will go back to being what they once were!

    Just to be clear:

    I've been a professional programmer now for about 10 years, since about year 3 of my career I have not seen a salary below £30k, if you know what you're worth and can prove it then there is no reason why that £718 average shouldn't apply to you too.

    ONS base their stats on the entire UK, London and other highly built up areas often pay a premium for getting a person to come in to the city, I live in the south west of England and have gone to interviews where the salary on offer is the "average for the area", someone else on here quoted a Bournemouth role offering "£20k something", and on more than 1 occasion i've attended such an interview and told them under no circumstances would I accept less than £30k (or whatever it was I was worth at the time) and been "reluctantly called back" by a manager some 2 months later because they employed some cheaper alternative that didn't have a clue.

    The point is, many "IT Managers" these days are "Managers" and many have come from roots in business not in IT, so when you tell them what a skill is worth they will often take their typical "Manager" point of view and say something like "Well I know I can get someone with your CV for cheaper" my response is simply ... "OK do it, but when they screw up i'll charge you a premuim to fix it" ... when their manager (possibly the MD) comes back with something like "you better get this right this time" all of a sudden they want to spend real money on talent.

    It's time managers in the business learnt that IT talent is not something to be taken lightly when an average project is to develop software that will enable your business to turn over millions. It's not until that system has problems or is unable to deliver for some reason that this sort of thing comes to the surface ... be wise people, know the manager you're dealing with, if they can't see the value in your skill set move along to the next job because you'll be shat on the whole of the time you are there else.

    And to quote someone else: "outsourcing is good, I get more to fix the problem in the longer term".

    And a final note: aren't programmers meant to be well known for thinking outside the box ... so start doing that guys! I won't be told by some overpriced MD that IT isn't worth getting right and any MD that feels that way can employ some indians then let me know when they feel they learn't their lesson.

    Disclaimer: I'm not racist, when I say "Indians" or other terms that come across insulting I'm generalising the industry's complete lack of ability to spot lack of talent when looking for a project team, typically it's India I see the outsourcing going to because "its cheap", in my opinion "it's cheap for a reason".

    "When I ring my ISP I don't want to talk to someone in India because my problem is with someone in the UK", it's not the Indian peoples fault.

    1. CJR
      Thumb Up

      And there is the answer

      My thoughts exactly, I have been working on the infrastructure side of IT for around 15 years with most of those years being filled with contractor roles for various companies around the world. I have spent the last 5.5 years in the UK and am now working just inside the M25 but not in London. In almost every environment that I have worked approximately 50% of the IT workforce were not very interested in IT, they got into the sector because it was 'easy money', and to be honest, it was. I stay in touch with some of these people and even though they hate their jobs and get little to no stimulation from going to work, when they move or are made redundant they go straight for other IT jobs and eventually they have all been re-employed and within a year are complaining...

      Then you get the others who are eager to learn, the infrastructure side of IT has change just as drastically but in a way that can make an average tech look good but without specialist skills and average tech will not be able to command a high salary (or should not). The specialists are the ones who build the infrastructure, who are self-training on, for example VMWare or Hyperv/Citrix and SAN storage and who are truly interested in the technology. The mediocre will support it once they have set it up and moved on to new projects...

      Just my 2p

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