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The 2024 IT Job Market in Poland: Shifting Demands and Salary Trends

CAREERSThe 2024 IT Job Market in Poland: Shifting Demands and Salary Trends

The year 2024 is marked by the alignment of demand for IT specialists to more realistic levels. The market requires fewer programmers and more professionals specialized in AI, machine learning, Cloud Computing, Big Data, and cybersecurity. The pace of salary growth is the slowest in five years, and IT professionals now value job stability and employment contracts more than before, according to the latest “IT Salary and Trends Report” by Grafton Recruitment.

After a period of high demand for specialists, there is now a “new deal.” On one hand, the demand for workers in certain specializations is decreasing, while on the other, the IT sector still struggles with a high demand for experienced engineers, although this demand has reduced compared to mid-2022.

This situation is attributed to market instability, halted investments, and cost-cutting measures. The IT market is still recalibrating after the pandemic, during which there was a significant increase in projects related to the popularization of online services and remote work. Now, the situation is returning to its starting point. Maintaining employees without assigned projects is no longer justified, especially since there are fewer projects. The systematic implementation of technological solutions, including AI and ongoing digitalization, also plays a role.

There is a noticeable decrease in demand for development and testing teams, with companies reducing or completely halting recruitment in these areas. This decline has been evident since 2022, and currently, there are 10% fewer job offers compared to the first quarter of 2023. The lowest demand is for “cross-functional” roles, which is 16% below the average for all IT job postings. This has made it significantly easier to reach candidates in ongoing recruitment processes due to fewer vacancies.

– Observing global IT market trends, it is difficult to be optimistic. International IT corporations announced planned workforce reductions and withdrawal from some investments by the end of last year, affecting the first half of 2024. However, compared to the global market, Poland is less impacted, as it remains one of the most attractive IT markets for Western investors due to relatively low employment costs and high competencies – explains Agata Jemioła, Branch Manager at Grafton Recruitment.

Who does the market need?

While the demand for programmers, testers, and “cross-functional” specialists has decreased, there is a noticeable and consistent increase in job offers for employees experienced in AI, machine learning, cybersecurity, Big Data, and Cloud Computing. Experts predict that these areas will dominate the job market in 2024–2025.

Compared to the third quarter of 2023, when the demand for AI and machine learning roles was below average, the first quarter of 2024 saw a 59% increase. This is a clear sign that companies are investing in these solutions. Cloud technologies also remain very popular, with demand for specialists in these areas 12% higher compared to the first quarter of 2023, indicating continuous growth and importance of Cloud specialists.

– Recruiters might have expected to breathe a sigh of relief with more candidates available and calmer recruitment processes. However, some positions are harder to fill than before due to the increasing demand for AI and machine learning skills. There are still too few candidates in these specializations – comments Karol Boczkowski, IT Contracts Manager at Grafton Recruitment.

Salaries are rising but not skyrocketing

A few years ago, IT candidates had an abundance of offers and skyrocketing salaries, growing by up to 20% year over year. Currently, they can still expect attractive salaries and raises, but not to the extent seen previously. This year’s “IT Salary and Trends Report” shows the lowest salary growth in the past five years. The highest raises were in Data and Cloud Development areas, while the smallest were in SAP and project management roles.

The report indicates that IT salaries still exceed the national average (except for first-line support employees, and not in all cases), with the highest salaries reaching 40,000-42,000 PLN per month for Software Development Directors/CTOs in Warsaw. In Łódź and Poznań, similar positions earn 33,000-40,000 PLN, and in Kraków, Tricity, Katowice, and Wrocław, 30,000-40,000 PLN. Besides qualified programmers, managers and security specialists, as well as cloud and AI solution architects, can also expect high salaries.

The report’s authors also identified roles where the employer’s location is not significant. Specialists in these fields can expect similar pay regardless of whether they work remotely or on-site in any Polish city. Among them, the highest salaries are for Program Directors (30,000-38,000 PLN monthly) and Technical Leads (25,000-35,000 PLN monthly). The lowest salaries are for PMO roles (9,000-14,000 PLN monthly) and Graphic Designers (11,000-17,000 PLN monthly).

The highest year-over-year salary increases were noted in the Data (average increase of 7.8%) and Cloud Development (6.8%) areas, and the smallest in project management and SAP (less than 1%). Considering functions, the highest raises were for Technical Leads and Enterprise Architects (average of 11.1%), as well as Product Owners and ETL engineers (average of 10.81%).

Experts predict that due to the ongoing demand for Big Data, Cloud Computing, and AI specialists, their salaries will grow the fastest, at 15%-20% year over year. For other positions, salaries will not grow as dynamically as in recent years. If the current trend continues, software development role salaries will likely stabilize at a 5% growth rate.

IT specialists want permanent jobs and remote work

An analysis of job offers published in April 2024 shows that employment contracts are currently the most common form of employment in the IT sector, accounting for 45.3% of contracts, especially in Kraków and Tricity. This trend may be due to market uncertainty, prompting employers to offer employment contracts to attract and retain the best candidates. In contrast, 33% of companies offered B2B contracts, which are prevalent in the Wrocław and Katowice markets.

Professionals who were highly sought after in 2022 and frequently changed jobs are now more cautious about new opportunities. Previously undervalued job stability has become a priority for them.

– We see more candidates applying for and accepting positions where the only form of employment is a permanent job. Previously, offers without the option to choose between an employment contract and B2B were less popular – notes Agata Jemioła, Branch Manager at Grafton Recruitment.

Changes in the IT industry are not only about the form of employment but also the mode of work. Although employers prefer having their employees in offices, hybrid and remote work remains the most popular, with only 7.8% of the market being on-site.

Main centers: Warsaw, Kraków, and Wrocław

– The largest IT hubs are concentrated around major cities – Warsaw, Kraków, and Wrocław – where the highest salaries are offered. However, this does not necessarily mean that employees live in the Mazowieckie, Małopolskie, or Dolnośląskie voivodeships. Especially Wrocław-based companies are still geared towards remote work – explains Karol Boczkowski, IT Contracts Manager at Grafton Recruitment.

According to the “IT Salary and Trends Report,” Warsaw remains the main center for IT specialists in Poland, although there was a significant decrease in job postings, especially for junior positions, at the end of 2023 compared to the same period the previous year (Q4 2022). Kraków is the second city in Poland in terms of the number of IT specialists, mainly due to its attractiveness to investors. Most job offers in the capital of Małopolska are for IT consulting, software suppliers, and the financial sector. Wrocław remains one of the top IT centers in Poland, characterized by stability last year, with a focus on senior and consultant positions, especially in software development. Remote work access created high demand for specialists in Łódź, leading to a quick equalization of local market salaries to levels observed in other major cities. Although Łódź saw a slight increase in IT demand in the first quarter of 2024, it is difficult to talk about a trend after a significant decline last year. Poznań is an important center for IT service infrastructure maintenance in Poland, investing in cloud applications, computer graphics, and services ensuring fast data flow. The heart of the Upper Silesian Metropolitan Area – Katowice – could become an interesting place in the coming years, with the development of the Gaming and Technology HUB on the site of the former KWK Wieczorek mine, potentially fostering the growth of the e-sports environment.

Increase in the number of students

A positive development for employers is the increased interest in IT-related fields. The percentage of IT students in Poland increased by 5.1% compared to the previous year, outpacing the overall student population growth (+0.4%).

The largest increase in IT students was in the Łódź (+21.5%), Podlaskie (+18.7%), and Lublin (+12%) voivodeships. Only two voivodeships saw a decrease in the number of students: Lubuskie and Dolnośląskie.

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