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How the IT landscape in NI has changed over the last 5 years

18 September 2018

I recently celebrated my 5-year anniversary with MCS Group and having hit a significant milestone in recruitment (I’m a dinosaur in recruitment years now!) it got me thinking about how the IT landscape has changed during that period for both job seekers and employers in NI.

Choice! Choice! Choice! Northern Ireland has so many more exciting IT firms as opposed to 2013. The established firms have continued to flourish, and we’ve a great (and growing) start-up scene comprised of fascinating indigenous companies. Along with a steady flow of FDIs and international big players setting up here for the long term, candidates have never had so much choice in terms of career moves.

Salaries! With choice and competition increasing, salaries have surely crept up in the last few years – interestingly however at a much higher rate compared to other industries and above inflation! Take for example a graduate software developer; in 2013, you’d typically expect to pay a graduate circa £18-22,000 – this year we’re seeing £22,000 being the minimum with plenty of firms paying over £25,000.

Technology! There’s been a huge shift in new languages and technologies across all the IT disciplines. In 2013, the majority of software engineering roles we would have recruited for were dominated by Java, C# and C++. These stalwarts are still as popular as ever, but in more recent times we’re seeing Python, Node, React, Go, Rust, Erlang, Hadoop, AWS, Azure, Splunk and others explode in popularity!

New Career Paths! New job disciplines springing up like Data Scientist, DevOps Engineer, UX Designer, Security Engineer and Scrum Master are all really popular career paths we’re seeing these days – and interestingly seeing graduates aspire to move into early on in their career. In a way, it’s really refreshing to see people being switched on to where they want their careers to go instead of deciding to fall into the more traditional avenues of development, testing or support.

The Value Proposition – I think there’s definitely been a big shift in firms promoting what value they can offer prospective employees; flexibility in the workplace, interesting projects, investment in training and career development and a focus on well-being and culture are cornerstones of the majority of the best employers locally. The ‘but hey, we’ve got a beer fridge?’ as a selling point seems to have waned a little (although, beer fridges ARE important in my opinion) – certainly when the technologies are old, hours aren’t great, and culture is poor.

I’m keen to hear what those working in the industry would feel have been the biggest shifts/differences in the last 5 years? What do you think the next 5 years will hold for the IT job market? Socio-economic and political changes like Brexit, the rapid adoption of disruptive technology (AI & Machine Learning for example) will surely continue to keep this recruitment dinosaur on his toes!



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