It’s a sellers’ market for local software developers. The ongoing, critical technology skills shortage means there are still more jobs than developers to go around. This is forcing employers to consider skills retention more seriously than ever.

According to OfferZen’s 2023 State of the Developer Nation report, developer salaries are on the increase (between 6.2% and 19.4% on average) and 30% of developers are job hunting this year.

The report indicates they are moving for better salaries, benefits and remote opportunities, something that has changed since the pandemic. What hasn’t changed is that more than 45% of developers will leave a role because of poor management.

Says co-founder and director of cybersecurity platform provider Port443, ML Conradie: “The market for developers is very lean. We come across many developers that have either relocated or are working for international organisations from South Africa.”

“What we’re seeing is a continuation of what happened during Covid,” notes Ruberto Paulo, head of engineering at payment gateway provider Peach Payments. “People became comfortable with hiring remote employees as everyone was working from home or a mix of the in-office and remote work.

“How this is playing out now is that we are facing heavy competition from international players hiring local developers, and we’re having to adjust our salary benchmarks to keep up.”

Not just about salary

Charlotte Koep, chief operating officer of insurtech Root Platform, comments: “We’re increasingly seeing developers ask for globally benchmarked salaries,” comments, “And the opportunity to work remotely or hybridly has become a key requirement.”

Work/life balance has become a deal breaker for developers, with many being incredibly over-worked during the pandemic due to the rapid digital transformation forced on countless businesses. Offerzen’s report shows that remote work, flexi-time and leave days are now priorities for devs, with 52.5% of respondents giving it priority when evaluating new opportunities.

Says Conradie: “We make it clear to all personnel that we will not set unrealistic deadlines and we set expectations with the clients so that our devs are not placed under unreasonable pressure.”

Developers also ask what hard problems companies are solving, Koep comments, something that is reflected by Paulo, who says devs will move jobs because they fear stagnating. With technologies changing so fast, they worry they will become obsolete if they’re not keeping up with modern tools and languages.

“Culture is another important element, which has helped us to balance the higher salaries overseas companies can offer.”

All three note ensuring their developers feel like they are adding value to the business and are recognised for their contribution is essential.