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January 30, 2007updated 19 Aug 2016 10:08am

Want to get rich in UK IT? Head for the hills

Research just out has shown that IT staff in the UK regions are rapidly closing the pay gap on the highest earning IT professionals in London. Taking into account the higher cost of living in London, that trend could mean you may be better off out

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Research just out has shown that IT staff in the UK regions are rapidly closing the pay gap on the highest earning IT professionals in London. Taking into account the higher cost of living in London, that trend could mean you may be better off out of the big smoke.

There is still a gap, albeit narrowing. Salaries for IT professionals in the regions are now 82% of London, up from 79% last year. Indeed the difference in pay between London and the regions has narrowed in IT more than in other sectors — the pay gap between the regions and London in all occupations closed by just 1% in 2006.

The data was collated by E-Skills for ReThink Recruitment, an IT staffing firm.

So do you want to know if you are paid above or below your peer average? IT professionals in the UK regions now earn £34,736 per annum, compared to £42,588 per annum for London. IT does better than most though: salaries for all UK employees is £20,852, compared to £28,808 in London.

ReThink Recruitment also pointed out that the UK IT sector is expanding up to three times faster in the regions than in London. Jon Butterfield, managing director, ReThink Recruitment, said: “The two-tier market for IT jobs, which mirrored the traditional North-South divide, is fast disappearing. For the most in-demand IT skills pay differences between London and regional hubs like Manchester are negligible.”

“The North is benefiting from rapid growth in back office and retail financial services jobs,” he added, “and is becoming a choice outsourcing destination for organisations relocating non-core functions to lower-cost areas, but who want to retain a presence in the UK.”

What’s more, the North-South divide is forecast to narrow further as more financial services companies and Government departments beef-up their presence in the North. For instance the Bank of New York and Royal Bank of Scotland are rapidly expanding their operations in Manchester, while the BBC is relocating five of its major departments to the city, following other public sector bodies in leaving the capital.

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ReThink Recruitment said that the Lyons Review, which recommended that the Government relocate central government offices outside London, should ensure that Manchester continues to benefit from this trend in the future.

But it’s not only the North that is benefiting. Turnover in the IT sector in the South West has grown 75% since 1998, twice as fast as London, from £1.6bn to £2.8bn, Rethink Recruitment said. It noted that the South West is the most important centre in Europe for semiconductor design and is a major hi tech hub for wireless technology and software development.

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