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Battle for tech talent sends fees soaring at Hays

Candidates are demanding salary hikes due to worker shortage   (CC0 Public Domain/
Candidates are demanding salary hikes due to worker shortage (CC0 Public Domain/

White-collar workers are in high demand, fuelling salary increases amid a war for talent, especially in tech.

Today London-based recruiter Hays said fees in the fourth quarter are up 24%. Profits for the year will be about £210 million, at the top end of City expectations.

Hays CEO Alistair Cox, said: “While macroeconomic uncertainties are increasing, we have a clear strategy and our key markets continue to be characterised by skill shortages. Our fee growth is also supported by improved margins and wage inflation globally.”

Hays says growth areas are tech, legal, HR and accounting. Yesterday it was reported that newly qualified lawyers are getting annual salaries that begin at nearly £180,000.

While some in the City are worried for their jobs — traditional broking and trading work is under pressure due to the lack of new flotations — there is a boom in other areas.

UK tech job opportunities are at a 10-year high, according to research by consultancy Tech Nation.

There were more than two million vacancies for tech roles between May 2021 and 2022, while the number of people working in the digital tech economy has more than doubled in the past decade to almost five million.

More than 950 UK tech companies raised a combined £12.4 billion in the first five months of 2022, figures from the UK Digital Economy Council show, with London’s £8.6 billion share representing more than double the £3.9 billion raised in Paris and above four times the £1.9 billion raised in Berlin.

Yesterday, Hays’ rival PageGroup also posted higher profits. Analysts who follow both stocks remain nervous about the prospects of a recession cutting demand for staff.

In the three months to the end of June, Hays made record fees in 15 of the countries where it operates, including Germany, where it makes more money than anywhere else.

German fees rose 29%, the business said, as it also reported rises of 22% in the UK and Ireland, 12% in Australia and New Zealand, and 24% in the rest of the world.

Cox said: “We finished our financial year strongly, delivering record quarterly fees overall and with 15 countries producing quarterly fee records.”