With the 25th May deadline for the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) fast approaching, demand for contracting IT professionals offering big data know-how has skyrocketed, soaring by 128% in the 12 months between Q1 2017 and Q1 2018, a new report reveals.

The latest Tech Cities Job Watch study from IT professional resourcing giant, Experis, also reveals a simultaneous 68% rise in demand for candidates with the same skills in the permanent IT jobs market. Overall, demand for big data specialists surged year-on-year by 78%.

The figures reveal an acceleration of a trend toward big data skills which began in 2017. The specific qualifications and skills that proved most sought-after included AWS, Cloudera, Hadoop, Hive, Java, MongoDB, Python and Spark.

Also rising vigorously in the demand league table were hybrid roles for candidates who possess wider IT knowledge rather than specific specialist skills.

The quarterly report monitors pay rates and salaries in IT jobs advertised across 10 British cities in five tech disciplines: cloud, IT security, big data, mobile and web development.

Experis UK & Ireland’s Director of Specialist Markets, Martin Ewings, underlined the influence of new regulatory hurdles in 2018, in particular the imminent arrival of GDPR. These were combining with growing interest in the Internet of Things. Between them, they were, he said, piling pressure on companies to improve the management, processing, security and competitive advantage of the data they possess.

He added:

“The power of that information is highly prized by organisations and they are eager to acquire the right skills, without necessarily fully comprehending precisely which skills are needed. For example, a data engineer or data architect might be more useful if the organisation has poor data infrastructures, instead of a data scientist to analyse the data.”

Big data roles continue to be the most highly prized, ahead of the other four specialisms monitored. Contracting big data specialists can command a day rate of £504, while their permanent counterparts command the highest average advertised salary: a princely £64,464.

Remuneration for big data specialists has, however, plateaued over the last few months, with permanent salaries climbing by just 0.1% in the last year (the smallest increase in any of the five specialisms monitored), while contractor day rates actually slipped by 5% over the same period.

Ewings explained that the data does not necessarily suggest that IT salaries have hit a ceiling but instead reflect a rebalancing of the market. Candidates have seen the high earnings available in big data roles and have been upskilling themselves with the qualifications needed for them, resulting in supply starting to meet demand and a natural stagnation in pay increases.

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