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What did we learn in 2018?

A review of the market trends in 2018.

31/12/2018 Ryan Chant, Senior Business Manager

As we look ahead to 2019, I've been thinking about the key recruitment trends in the IT sector across the South West region. Here's my observations.

IT recruitment highlights

The first trend to point out is that recruitment activity was significantly above the previous year. Let’s not forget that the sosouth-westot only covers Cornwall and Devon but includes Wiltshire, Dorset, Avon, Somerset, Gloucestershire and south Wales. It has a big population and the economy is flourishing. Such is the demand for IT talent in the south west that we’ve been placing permanent candidates within a matter of days. For contractors this could be 24 hours. That’s an indication of how fast the market is moving.

Demand for IT specialists

Both the permanent and contract software development and infrastructure support markets have been buoyant. Individuals with a background in full stack development and web-based technologies with knowledge of the .NET platform and JavaScript programming language are particularly sought after. At the more senior end, director level project managers and business analysts are also in high demand. The same applies for infrastructure technologies – first, second and third line infrastructure project engineers – and networking jobs.

IT recruitment challenges

The market for permanent and contract IT specialists in the south west is candidate driven – there is a shortage of good, quality candidates. What this means is that professionals with a solid track record can afford to be selective, as the supply of roles outstrips the demand. At the higher end, IT niche specialists are on long term contracts, so it can be difficult for organisations to identify experienced people with the right skills quickly and then securing their services.

Attracting top talent

Slowly but surely salaries are increasing in the south west for in-demand skills. I often advise organisations that they may have to offer better remuneration if they are to compete. Required skills aren’t always based locally, so in some cases companies will have to stretch the net further and consider candidates from outside the region. These specialists will have to relocate and will expect competitive reward packages.

Quality of life

However, it’s not just important to offer competitive monetary benefits. While salaries might not be on a par with London and other major industrial hubs, most of the candidates I speak to place a lot of importance on the increased work-life balance. They are happy to accept this trade-off. There are, however, some extremely competitive packages, although this does vary from company to company and industry to industry. The key message that I give to hiring managers is that the role and package are important, but you must sell the location and lifestyle benefits too.   

Booming economy

While some companies such as IBM and Oracle have been established in the region, others such as Dyson and Toshiba are planning to create innovation hubs and R&D centres in the region. With start-ups, SMEs and global blue-chip organisations, there’s a thriving business community in the region.

I wasn’t at all surprised by the 2018 first quarter figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It reported that the south west region had the highest employment rate in the UK (79.3%) and the lowest economic inactivity (17.3%). Thousands of jobs will be created in the south, so I’m not expecting any slowdown in the levels of permanent and contract IT recruitment for the foreseeable future. It’s a fantastic time for companies and candidates to make the south west their home.

If you’d like to know more about the range of our IT recruitment services, from helping you to advertise your jobs to interview shortlisting via video, please call us on 0187 247 0222 or email

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Ryan Chant
Senior Business Manager
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