Key Insights from the 2023 UK Data & AI Salary Guide

At Harnham, we pride ourselves on having a comprehensive understanding of the data industry and having our finger on the pulse when it comes to talent trends.

And what better way to do this, than by asking those who live and breathe the industry every day. Last week we launched our 12th UK Data & AI Salary Guide, which involved gathering responses from over 6,500 candidates in the data space, to find out how the job market is faring, what candidates are valuing most and how employers are responding.

Overall, this year’s report paints a picture of resilience to the economic storms of the previous year, with hiring levels beginning to stabilise, and 83 per cent of data professionals feeling as or more secure in their roles, than they did the previous year.

So, what else did the research tell us?

Salaries Subside

In 2022, we saw employers paying exceptionally high salaries to both entice and retain talent. These offers increased above usual market levels and were heightened by the huge demand for skilled professionals. One ramification being the creation of benchmarks that were not attainable – or sustainable – for most businesses.

But our latest statistics show that the market has largely settled, with data salaries returning to less inflated levels. This seems to be reflective of a global pattern of businesses being forced to be more conservative with their hiring strategies and financial incentives. This year the average data salary increase compared to last year is 13 per cent, which is minimal when you factor in inflation.

However, even if employers are grappling with budget restrictions, clearly this hasn’t impacted how employee’s feel. Candidate’s salary rise expectations when moving roles sits well above actual changes in pay, at 21 per cent. A figure likely, at least in part, to be driven by rises in the cost of living.

And money clearly still talks. 26 per cent of respondents across the industry say that non-competitive salaries and day rates are the top reason for leaving their role, whilst bonuses feature as the second most desirable work benefit for 24 per cent of respondents.

Against this backdrop, employers will need to find ways to remain competitive to attract and retain the best talent. Those operating on stretched budgets are likely to lean more heavily on alternative employee incentives, such as favourable hybrid work arrangements.

Formalising Flexibility

Remote and flexible working options remain highly valued by candidates – 29 per cent rated remote working options as the most desirable work benefit and only 4 per cent of employees returning to the office full-time post-COVID.

That said, businesses and candidates are recognising the business value of attending an office and increasingly embracing a hybrid working arrangement – the average data professional still spends one and a half days in the office per week.

While most employers are happy to accommodate candidate flexible working expectations, many are now establishing formalised agreements with their employees to ensure that people are committing to days in the office. This year there has been an influx of these types of arrangements, with 37 per cent of employees claiming to have had a remote or hybrid work agreement explicitly outlined in their contract, compared to 15 per cent last year.

Gender Diversity Shows Gradual Progress

It’s positive to see that the steps that companies are making towards equality are slowly paying off – 29 per cent of data professionals are women this year, up from 22 per cent last year.

However, at Harnham, we hope that we can play a part in helping the industry to take the strides we know it is capable of in this area. This is something that we will examine in more detail in our ‘2023 Diversity In Data Report’ later this year.

The Steady Rise of AI

One of the buzzwords on everyone’s lips in and outside of the data space, is Artificial Intelligence (AI). 47 per cent of those surveyed believe that AI & Machine Learning (ML) will have the biggest impact on Data & Analytics in 2023 and most of our clients are putting a real focus on emerging tech, despite inflation and budget challenges. Even those who are only just tipping their toe into the space are already making strides and integrating AI into their broader data strategies.

Still, even the AI hiring market isn’t immune to broader economic challenges. With rising inflation and heightened business costs there hasn’t been the same surge in hiring of record levels of AI professionals as last year, but we are expecting this to change as companies realise the cost savings that come with the technology.

This year we wanted to ensure that our clients and candidates were able to get the most out of our data and could interact and benefit from it. So our 12th edition also includes an interactive tool where data professionals can check their salaries against the industry average and employers can download a free personalised data salary report to inform their hiring strategy, help with benchmarking and ensure they are hiring in line with industry trends.

Dig into the full report here, or if you are interested in finding out more about what data has to offer to your organisation – get in touch with one of our consultants today.

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