A positive outlook: ACN IT Salary Survey 2017
A slight increase in salaries and new market prospects set the foundation for 2018
Now in its fifth iteration, the annual ACN IT Salary Survey continues on its purpose to shed light on the state of remuneration within the region's IT sector. Examining the overall job satisfaction of the market, the annual survey delves into the various factors central to how organisations attract and retain the right IT talent.
Covering the entirety of the GCC and wider Middle East, the annual survey collated samples from IT professionals from across the public sector, as well as organisations both big and small. The past year has seen increased traction within the region for ICT, as well as the wider adoption of cutting-edge technologies, such as robotics, Internet-of-Things (IoT), and even artificial intelligence to a limited degree.
At the same time demand for IT talent has continued to rise, but so to has the avenues for skill development. In addition to universities expanding their respective programs to offer students access to specialist ICT fields, but even global organisations with dedicated development capabilities have taken a wider interest in building talent within the region. Despite this however, opportunities from the organisations in terms of skill development remains mixed.
The ACN IT Salary Survey is an anonymous survey which was conducted online through www.itp.net between July and September 2017.
The results of this year's survey are based on responses from 70 IT professionals active across the region. The bulk of the responses (89%) were based in the UAE, however, the report noted participants from Saudi Arabia (4%), Egypt (3%), Bahrain and Kuwait (1%).
In terms of industry, the majority of respondents are active with the media/marketing segment (24%). Also, strongly represented were IT vendors (18%), IT-related services (9%), IT channel (9%), and government (5%).
From an organisational perspective, the greater number of survey respondents are employed by companies with an employee base numbering between 201 - 500 individuals (29%). The next biggest group (22%) indicated that they work for companies whose employees number 1,000 individuals or more. The lower end was tied between organisations employing between 51-100 staff and those employing 101-200 (9%).
Job roles ranged from IT sales professionals (15%), to project managers (9%), help desk/support specialists (7%), systems administrators and consultant/strategists (5%).
From the small pool of survey respondents received for 2017, a high number enjoy veteran status in their respective roles. In fact, the greater majority (24%) reported working for their current employer for the last five to ten years.
This was closely followed by those who had worked in the same company for 10 years or more (22%), and those who had worked two to five years (22%). The lowest value was held by those who have in been in their current job for less than one year (15%).
In terms of education, the bulk of respondents (63%) had acquired a degree level of education. A sizeable number held a Masters or MBA (31%), while a select few held a PhD (1%). A handful reported holding only a high school diploma (4%).
State of salaries
Within the salary segment of the survey, the questionnaire requests respondents to share their total annual salary, which includes allowance but excludes bonuses. These are reported at $10,000 bands - i.e. $21,000 to $30,000 - and as result means that any average value calculated is an approximation, though median values are more accurate.
Most of the respondents selected their representative band was between $61,000 and $70,000 per year, 13.46% of total respondents indicating so. This was closely followed by the $51,000 to $60,000 band range with 12% of respondents selecting this choice, and then the $111,000 to $120,000 band range with 8% of respondents. A select few (6%) fit into the highest band of over $200,000 per year.
Similar to last year's results, salaries appeared to have remained static from the year before. According to the survey findings, half of the respondents reported that their salary had remained unchanged over the past 12 months. On a positive note however, in the few cases where salaries did change, the difference was a positive one.
Nineteen percent reported that they had experienced a positive increase in their salary by 2-5%, while 6% reported an increase by less than 2%. At the high end of the spectrum, 6% reported receiving an increase of between 11-20%, and another 2% reported increase 50% or more.
In terms of bonus payments for 2017, the majority of the IT professionals (73%) expect that they will not receive any bonuses this year. For the select bunch that are expecting, they attributed both personal performance (54%) and corporate performance (46%) as key factors behind the bonus. The results are largely in line with last year's survey.
When asked about salary satisfaction, 33% of respondents felt indifferent about the current state of their salaries. On the positive end, 21% and 8% reported feeling fairly satisfied and very satisfied, respectively. Twenty three percent on the other hand, reported being fairly dissatisfied with their salary, while 15% admitted to being very dissatisfied with what they take home.
As a side note, 35% of respondents reported that their respective company's IT teams are fully staffed, while 19% reported shortages. Another 27% were unsure at the time of the survey if their company was engaged in recruiting new IT personnel.
Compared to the results of last year's survey, overall job satisfaction has increased with 33% of respondents reporting they are fairly satisfied with their current job. Another 12% reported being very satisfied with their job, while 27% remained neutral.
However, it should be noted that despite the high number of positive numbers, there was also a spiked increase in dissatisfied respondents over last year's results. Where last year, 17% reported being dissatisfied with their job, this figure has risen 29% in 2017.
Similar to 2016, the factors that contributed to high satisfactions rates were a positive work environment (81%) and salary (77%). A third and new factor to arise was working for a reputed company, which 67% of survey respondents indicated was a critical factor in their overall job satisfaction.
Searching for new careers
In terms of staff retention, the greater bulk (38%) reported that they would be interested in changing jobs over the next six months, an increase of 2016's figure (30%). A great number remain undecided or have yet to consider a change (25%), while a sizeable bunch (17%) have decided to remain in the current position for the time being.
Breaking down the top motivations that are driving those to seek other employment opportunities, a better salary (88%) was the primary reason, which has been the case for the last three years.
Other equally important factors include seeking opportunities for advancement (60%), better benefits with the job (49%), and the need for new challenges (44%). Less critical factors included company downsizing and contract expiration, which was selected by 5% of respondents in each case.
For those already on the prowl for potential employment opportunities, 40% somewhat agree that the Middle East's IT sector offers good career prospects. Another 12% strongly agree with this notion, while 29% remained neutral. It should be noted that elements among the survey respondents also somewhat disagreed and strongly disagreed, both 13% and 4%, respectively.
Training remains a key issue
Despite the rising number of academic institutions offering novel programs/certification in the ICT field, on-the-job training remains a top challenge reported by survey participants. While there has been an increase year-over-year (42% vs 33%), the greater majority reported not receiving training on the job (54%). Half of the respondents also indicated that they undertook independent training from the company.
When pressed on what type of training would be valuable, this year's results showed a high demand for technology-specific training (54%), the need for business skills (52%), and improvement in communication (49%). Low priorities included statistical analysis skills (27%) and vendor certification (19%).