A long-time subscriber of my YouTube channel made a comment recently about the ever increasing challenges of finding a programming development job in 2024 within the UK. This comment got me wondering, is that a fact or fiction>

Its easy to go online and find doom and gloom news that state the things are worse in 2024. Equally, its also easy to find articles saying AI will create a number of new jobs. If you look at the most successful IT companies of the world, the likes of Facebook, NVidia and Microsoft, all these massive companies stock prices are at all time highs in Q1 2024. This definitely came as a trade-off as within 2022/2023 most of these same companies also made mass layoffs and redundancies

Personally, I've definitely noticed growing number of people on Reddit complaining about being out of work. I even saw a post about a well known JavaScript author who was struggling to get an interview due to lack of experience. So if you want to learn which side of the coin seems more accurate based on real-world data, read on 🔥🔥🔥

Overall UK 2024 Job Market For Programmers in 2024

To start the ball rolling, I thought I'd look at the official job data for the UK. At the gov website, we can see that overall employment rates are in a better place compared to pre-covid. The last few months have definitely seen a decline. however, overall were in a more positive place than we have been in 20 years:

In terms of official stats for IT, sadly the last official IT related report was created way back in 2020 here. This meant that I needed to look at other data sources for this article.

One article that I found by Morgan McKinly kind of support this thesis that things are OK. From their 2023, they found that about 50% of companies said they halted wage increases in 2023, however, they were looking to increase it in 2024.

As the national job data didn't help explain this perceived harder job market, the next source to look at is the live job data. Within the UK there is an invaluable job data website called IT Jobs Watch. Looking at the trends on IT Jobs Watch definitely starts to paint a different picture. If we look at the latest trending data from over 2000+ live jobs, things look pretty bad. If you go to this page, currently every programming language role is down around 10% in salary year-on-year.

If you look at most popular programming languages like C#, Java, and Python, you can see a consist downward trend in total number of jobs being advertised for the past 2-3 years.

As this data is based on live roles, this dataset is always going to be more accurate than 2023 averages but from this data the current job market is not looking great

Average UK Salaries

With the overall UK job data looking somewhat promising, its time to drill down into the IT and programming related data. First, lets consider what the UK average wage is for programming. In order to get the best overview possible, i looked at a few sources:

If we took the average of all of these touch-points, the overall median is £52598.5. If you are a new or junior developer then my recommendation is to use this is the salary figure you should aim towards. If you are a senior, then you will want to aim for the top 90% bracket. The data points here are a little harder to find:

Also remember that realistically, you will have to work in London to have the highest chance of getting within this range. Now we have some current data points, lets compare this to averages in previous years, to see what the overall trend in wages look like:

Based on that data, I think its fair to say, its seems that overall the overall average has been slowly trending upwards for programmers, however, does this means that its easier or harder to find a job?

Contracting To Perm Ratio in 2024

Another thing that some people might wonder about is the state of the IT contracting market. One thing that happened just before Covid kicked in was the changing of UK law around IR35. My background was contracting for 10 years, so I wondered if contracting was looking more promising a few years later on? For this I used live job data from jobsite.co.uk:

From this data, I think we can roughly say 1 in 10 new jobs involve contracting. Sadly, this data doesn't tell us the important aspect of which jobs are inside of outside IR35. I would definitely be interested to see if IR35 contracts were increasing 4 years after the tax changes.

The second consideration with contracting is the number of inside IR35 to outside IR35 positions. As a contractor within the UK, ideally you want to have Outside IR35 roles as you will make more money due to tax savings.

Getting exact data on this is hard, however, within this report by Qdoas, out of the contractors they surveyed, 80% of contractors were able to find outside IR35 roles in 2022. This dropped to 75% within 2023, however, this is still a pretty solid split and much better than I would have expected.

From this data, I thinks its safe to say that things contracting is still good as they were pre-COVID and IR35. I did hear there might be a tax legislation change in 2024 to prevent a current loophole. Currently, companies can potentially be charged a double tax on contractors and not get refunded, this only helps to detract companies to use contractors. I don't think this legislation change will impact anything, but, it is positive news. The other thing to consider with contracting is that typically you will need to live within a city to make it work.


Based on the data, it definitely looks like its harder to find a programming job in 2024. This lack of roles combined with a decrease in wages is also not ideal.

Wage increase is bad enough, but it is also coming at a time where inflation is the worst its been in 20 years https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/timeseries/l55o/mm23. So overall, if you are feeling poorer than ever then that's understandable.

If you think about the future its easy to find data to say things will be great or the world will end. For example, this report projects there will be 10% less programming job. This report goes directly against this artcile which shows dev demand is increasing.

One issue with trying to figure out the state of play for programmers in 2024 is that we are coming out of a bubble. The changes to the contract market in 2021/2022, meant loads of people were forced to change how they worked. Employers had to change how they hired people and this affected both jobs and wages. On top of this we had COVID. COVID meant a lot of people got stuck at jobs for longer than many probably wanted.. This meant that the year after COIVD, I would assume a lot more people swapped jobs compared to a normal year. Again, this is something that inflates wages and job numbers. So when we compare jobs now against 2 years ago, this does not necessarily mean things are worse

One data set I couldn't find is the number of new developers entering the market. Even if job roles stayed thee same, however, the number of applicants 10xed this would obviously impact your job hunt

The final thing that is also making it harder for you to find a job is AI. There are loads of news stories about AI trying to apply for jobs. This means that its much harder for an employer to review CV's . Now it is much more likely that you will fail to get through an initial application as you now need to deal with fake profiles as well.

Based on all of the data I found, I feel the IT industry is worse off compared to before COIVD. I think because of all the stuff that's happened in the last 4 years, we cant necessarily do a year on year comparison and trust the data is accurate, however, it kind of feels like things are harder from the people I talk to with the last 6 months seeming the worst its been for ages.

Finally, I do not think this trend will last forever. The thing to remember in your life you probably only need a maximum no 50 jobs, and you only need to find 1! Happy Coding 🤘