Brain drain turns, survey finds

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Recruitment and research experts say the fifth annual ITWeb Salary Survey, which was released in Sandton today, shows a clear change in the brain drain trend and a consolidation of IT salaries.

[VIDEO]The ITWeb Salary Survey 2003 captured 2 977 responses from a cross-industry sample of SA IT professionals.

Among its key findings were that only 5% of respondents intend leaving SA in the next 12 months, compared with 16% last year and 24% in 2001.

Susan Haiden, client development manager of the Insource Group, says this may be due to tough market conditions around the world. "People are becoming aware that the grass is not always greener elsewhere."

[VIDEO]Another key finding was that IT salaries have not kept up with inflation over the past year. While a small number of respondents reported salary increases of up to 20%, the average salary figures show a slow growth, with the overall increase of about 9% failing to keep pace with the rising cost of living.

Up to 40% of strategic management level participants and almost a third of the entire sample have not received a salary increase during the past 12 months. This reinforces the message that increases are no longer guaranteed in this industry sector.

"This year`s survey shows a marked trend of linking salary increases to performance to ensure a win-win situation," says Ranka Jovanovic, editorial director at ITWeb and survey report editor.

Morag May, a director of remuneration specialist 21st Century Business and Pay Solutions, says: "It is not surprising that incentives are more prevalent at executive level, taking into account that there is a reduction of guaranteed bonuses at this level and an apparent stronger link between pay and performance."

[VIDEO]May adds that overall, the IT industry appears to be falling in line with other industries in terms of salaries.

The survey showed for the fifth consecutive year that there is a strong bias towards the white male IT population. However, both the gender and racial ratios have slightly improved when compared with last year`s sample. Of the 2 977 respondents this year, 25% are non-white (up from 21%) and just over 21% are female (up from 19%).

While females in absolute terms lag, they fared slightly better in terms of salary growth, reporting an average salary 4.8% higher than last year.

[VIDEO]Paracon director Janette Cumming comments that women tend to earn less than men with the same skills and duties throughout most local industries.

There were few surprises around average salaries for the entire sample of respondents. In fact, many of the findings mirrored last year`s results in terms of how age, gender, race, experience, qualification or working hours influenced salaries.

[VIDEO]Adrian Schofield, GM of The People Business`s contracting and recruitment division, says the lack of progress in equalising race discrepancies within the industry is still a cause for concern.

While a large percentage of IT workers put in long hours, there is a strong "return to normality" trend, with nearly one-third working a "normal" eight hours a day.

The heavy racial imbalance of the sample results in a similar disparity in salaries earned by different racial groups. Recruitment specialists expect a major shift in this ratio in the next three to five years as previously disadvantaged individuals work their way up the ranks.

The survey results are available in full in ITWeb`s Salary Survey 2003 section.

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