As an established recruitment business for data roles in the UK, Europe and US, it is essential that we keep our finger on the pulse of what is happening in the data space, for both employers and professionals. In 2023, after an economically turbulent 12 months, the results of our annual Data & AI Salary Guides paint a picture of challenges but also resilience.
Our guides for each of our regions are compiled from the responses of more than 6,500 candidates working in the data world. Their answers give us a real insight into common trends and sentiments, such as why professionals would leave or take on a role, what’s happening to salaries and gender pay gaps, and what skills are most in demand by employers. Knowing the answers to these, and many more questions, supports our consultants in matching the best talent with the most suitable roles.
Here we summarise the current picture for data professionals in Europe, with a focus on France and the Netherlands.
A dip in overall job security
The data job market in both France and the Netherlands has seen an inevitable shift in market dynamics from 12 months ago, given the wider economic backdrop. In 2022, data professionals were in particularly high demand with businesses hiring extensively on very attractive salaries.
By contrast, in 2023 many companies have been forced to put on the breaks by implementing hiring freezes and, in some cases, making redundancies. Our research shows that this has had an impact on candidate confidence in Europe, with organisations being more selective in their recruitment.
For example, in France 12 months ago, 91 per cent of data professionals reported feeling as or more secure in their current role as they had the previous year. Fast forward to 2023 and this has dropped to 6 per cent. This sentiment is further echoed by the fact that a year ago 71 per cent stated they would leave their role if another opportunity came up, but this has fallen to just 50 per cent in 2023, showing a reluctance to take the risk of jumping ship.
There is an even stronger picture in the Netherlands, where in 2022, 98 per cent of respondents reported feeling as or more secure in their role than the previous year, dropping by more than a third to 63 per cent in 2023.
Nonetheless, while this sentiment is prevalent, it is not universal across all data specialisms. For example, 80 per cent of Data Analytics professionals in France still report feeling as or more secure in their jobs this year, whilst for Data & Technology professionals in the Netherlands, this rises to 84 per cent.
Hybrid and remote working
Hybrid and remote working patterns continue to be entrenched across the board with the majority of businesses continuing to operate on a hybrid basis and with no realistic prospect of a return to old working habits. Only 6 per cent have returned to the office full-time post-COVID in France, and just 4 per cent in the Netherlands.
The usual requirement in these markets is to be in the office between one and three days per week. However, in France in particular, employers are showing considerable flexibility and often operating on a monthly hybrid model, whereby employees can be in the office for a certain percentage of days during a month, rather than on fixed days per week. For those living further away, the expectation around office days is generally lowered and many companies will contribute towards the costs of commuting.
The hybrid working model is working well for most employees, with around three quarters of professionals in France and the Netherlands stating that they prefer this arrangement. For data professionals in the Netherlands, the option to work from home is consistently rated as the most desirable work benefit, and ranked second by candidates in France, after health insurance.
Our data reveals that almost half of employers (47 per cent) in France now have a contract that formally incorporates the hybrid / remote working agreement they have with staff, whilst in the Netherlands this stands at just 20 per cent, with most employers choosing instead to put a non-contractual company policy in place, or make informal agreements with managers.
The value of soft skills
In a market where businesses are needing to exercise economic caution when recruiting, soft skills are extremely important in accompanying technical expertise. Even more so in a hybrid working world which calls for certain skillsets.
Across data roles in France and the Netherlands, employers are prioritising candidates who have the technical skills paired with the mindset to work independently and are able to ‘bed in’ quickly without excessive training or support. Equally important for many roles are strong communication skills and the ability to slot into a team dynamic, even when working remotely.
What about the gender split?
The split between male and female data professionals reveals some interesting comparisons in our report. In France, overall, 27 per cent of professionals are female, compared with 24 per cent in the Netherlands. However, there are significant variations between different data specialisms. For example, in France just 19 per cent of Data & Technology professionals are female, whereas they account for 40 per cent of Marketing and Insight candidates.
In the Netherlands, only 11 per cent of Data Science professionals are female, which our consultants suggest could be influenced by the education field that talent emerges from, namely candidates with Master’s degrees and PhDs in applied mathematics or statistics. These traditionally have poor gender diversity.
In contrast, in the field of Advanced Analytics in the Netherlands, almost two thirds (57 per cent) of professionals are female. One key reason attributed to this untypically high number of female professionals is the broader accessibility to the sector through a more diverse set of qualifications and degrees, including business or non-technical degrees. This opens the specialism up to many more people and pathways.
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 latest 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.