Public sector IT managers are beginning to see their wages catching up with private sector counterparts, according to research, although they have yet to reach parity.
The gap is narrowing most at the upper echelons of the salary scale, with IT directors in London and the South East now being paid up to 86 per cent of their equivalents in the private sector. In previous years the figure was typically 60 per cent.
The research shows that the public sector is now in a strong position to compete in the labour market for talented IT professionals.
The falling wage gap, combined with fringe benefits such as flexible working and generous pension plans, have apparently made the public sector an attractive place to work.
Local government user group Socitm, which published the survey, found retention problems easing across the public sector. A year ago, this was a problem for a quarter of all public sector employers. Now only 17 per cent report problems.
But while attracting high-calibre candidates is currently less difficult, public sector bosses should not rest on their laurels, warned Andy Roberts, member services group chairman at Socitm.
"They are likely to face a stiff challenge once recruitment picks up again and competition drives up private sector salaries," he said.
There are early indications from market watchers that the IT recruitment market is recovering. In its most recent quarterly report published this month, e-skills UK, the government-backed IT skills body, reported a rise in the number of job adverts for IT positions.
One in seven firms expect to recruit at the IT manager level within the next three months, said e-skills UK.
Central government has led the way in demonstrating its willingness to offer competitive salaries for seasoned IT professionals.
In the past year it has offered six-figure salaries for a number of high profile IT jobs, including head of e-government, for which it is currently considering applications.
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