Starting salaries rise across the UK as skill shortage deepens

Britain’s skills shortage is no secret. A growing body of research has shown that the country’s businesses have struggled to attract and retain top talent over the last couple of years.


The UK is expected to have a shortage of 4.2 million skilled workers by 2024, according to the Local Government Association. If these gaps aren’t addressed, the nation will lose £90 billion worth of economic output.


One way employers are rising to the challenge is by offering higher starting salaries. The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) noted that pay growth remained sharp last month, having hit a 31-month peak in January.


Advertised salaries were up 1.3 per cent year on year in February, data from CV Library showed, while the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said annual wage growth stood at 2.4 per cent in the three months to November.

Employers on the hunt for talent

Despite rising salaries, the ONS noted that inflation was 3.1 per cent in November, which means real wages actually declined over the year.

Nevertheless, news that starting salaries are increasing will no doubt please jobseekers or those currently looking to switch roles. The continuing decline in unemployment is only likely to place even more upward pressure on wages.


“Even with employer uncertainty, demand for staff continues to rise,” said Kevin Green, REC chief executive.


“At the same time, candidate availability is still dropping, which means that employers in all sectors are struggling to recruit for the roles they desperately need to fill.”


CV Library’s research showed the biggest salary jumps in February were seen in Hull and Sheffield at 7.9 and 6.6 per cent, respectively, year on year. London salaries remained relatively stable, with a slight 1.2 per cent rise.

Corporate governance professionals dissatisfied with salaries

At Barclay Simpson, we track salary expectations and trends across the corporate governance sector in our biannual Market Reports.


Last year, our mid-year compensation publications showed a growing dissatisfaction towards salaries among many professionals. In our latest reports, published earlier this month, not much seems to have changed.


Employers often cited salary expectations as a key challenge when hiring, and businesses may need to adjust their remuneration packages if they want to secure sought-after skills in a competitive market.


Notably, finding people with the right technical skills was considered the biggest hurdle for hiring managers in audit, compliance, risk and legal departments. Interpersonal skills topped the wish list for security and resilience employers, although technical know-how came second.


Budgets may be an important consideration for businesses, but sourcing candidates with the necessary capabilities appears to be a greater priority.

Is your department sufficiently resourced?

Approximately half of corporate governance departments feel they are adequately resourced for the demands placed upon them. In-house legal are feeling the most pressure, with 56 per cent saying they are under-resourced.


In a year of significant regulatory upheaval and with the shadow of Brexit looming over political and economic discourse, organisations must consider whether or not they have access to the necessary skills.


Meanwhile, candidates with a good mix of technical and interpersonal capabilities may feel now is the right time to explore new career opportunities.


Whatever your needs, Barclay Simpson can provide extensive support across the corporate governance sector. Please contact us today to find out more about our services.


For help specifically with your internal audit requirements, please ring me on 0207 936 2601 or email me at

Image: lovelyday12 via iStock