Report: AU tech sector salaries growing despite COVID-19


Tuesday, 08 September, 2020


Report: AU tech sector salaries growing despite COVID-19

The biannual tech salary and staff attrition report from the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) has found that continued wage rises in the tech sector appear untroubled by the turbulence caused by COVID-19. The ‘AIIA Remuneration Report for the Information, Technology and Telecommunications Industries’ report included participation from 567 organisations covering 99,025 individual employees.

AIIA CEO Ron Gauci said the findings from the report highlight how crucial the tech sector is in terms of rebuilding the Australian economy — evident through increased nominal base salaries in the current economic climate.

“The tech sector continues to show unrivalled resilience to the global pandemic and the AIIA will continue to fully support and advocate for the growth of the industry. In amongst a yearly average salary increase for tech workers, the report also shows that 85% of tech companies have not reduced their headcount — a remarkable feat given the impact of COVID-19,” said Gauci.

In addition to the Remuneration Report, the AIIA also shared a white paper titled ‘Building Australia’s Digital Future in a Post-COVID World’, which outlines a series of practical recommendations to state and federal government designed to help guide policy development and focus areas for now and the next decade.

The AIIA Remuneration Report revealed a 1.7% increase in the nominal base salary across the past 12 months, with the average yearly tech nominal base salary of $121,825. Risk & fraud, research & development and product are the three job families that have experienced the highest nominal base salary percentage increase.

“The industry is demanding greater technology and digital skill sets in order to thrive. This report continues to show the appetite and desire for the industry to come out on top — all businesses and tech employees should take great confidence in the findings,” said Gauci.

The COVID-19 pandemic has unsettled working Australians and disturbed working conditions around the world. In the Australian tech sector, between one third and one half of companies have either cancelled/reduced budgets or deferred salary reviews. Despite the lowest increase in five years of the nominal base salary, it shows how resilient and important the tech sector is for future growth.

“We are living in a COVID world and with that comes many challenges; however, this report shows just how important the tech sector is in getting Australia back on track, reflective of base salary increases,” said Gauci.

Despite the disruptions caused by COVID-19 to the Australian workforce, the AIIA Remuneration Report highlights minimal staff reduction in the tech field and a considerable increase of focus on workplace wellbeing, with 85% of respondents saying they have not had to stand down any of their workforce and 48% stating that they have introduced new benefits due to the current environment.

These benefits are predominantly focused on working from home and employee wellbeing, through initiatives such as mental health apps and home wellness programs. 15% of respondents also received extra leave. For companies that have not conducted a salary review in 2020, 38% of respondents will also continue with planned annual fixed salary reviews this year, with the rest either postponed, cancelled or undecided.

Gauci noted that COVID-19 has motivated organisations to fully embed wellbeing into every aspect of the design and delivery of work, crediting the organisations that have found a balance between work outputs, employee wellbeing and mental health.

The report also highlighted that graduates were only attributed to 0.8% of the findings. “The low number of graduates employed requires attention and the AIIA wants to drive interest and learning into the tech field,” said Gauci.

Gauci acknowledged that long-term success in developing the required skills begins in the primary and secondary education systems, with more Australian school leavers interested in STEM — particularly computer science and technology.

“In our white paper we encourage the federal, state and territory governments to commission an audit of the National STEM School Education Strategy to 2026 to consider what changes are required to elevate the importance of technology and digital skills in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. An important aspect of this audit will be the supply of qualified teachers — some 30% of STEM teachers in Years 7–10 do not have a qualification in the subject,” said Gauci.

Jairus Ashworth, Partner, Rewards Solutions at Aon, said it is heartening to see the resilience of the tech sector despite the economic fallout of COVID-19 and its impact on remunerated and retention across Australia.

“The learnings from 2020 we have seen is that there is clearly no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to managing the impacts of the pandemic on business and remuneration. As we look to 2021,it will be companies who take action in incorporating the views of all stakeholders (employee, investors and the broader community) who will earn the trust needed to deliver long-term success,” said Ashworth.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/peshkov

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