The tech skills that could get you into the UK

The United Kingdom is one of the top emigration destinations for South Africans, and skilled young professionals continue to flood out of South Africa in favour of better prospects overseas.

Notwithstanding the cost of emigration, it is not easy to move to the UK, and it can be even more difficult for those without citizenship or a specialised visa.

For those with specific skills, however, the process can be a lot easier.

This is because the UK offers a Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa to foreigners who are offered jobs in industries where there is a high demand for skilled professionals.

Professionals who qualify for this visa and are offered a job in the UK can stay for a period of up to five years.

New immigration rules

The UK recently opened applications for its new Tier 2 visa programme based on its post-Brexit immigration system that will be effective from 1 January 2021.

“Under the points-based immigration system, points will be awarded for a job offer at the appropriate skill level, knowledge of English and being paid a minimum salary,” the UK government stated.

“Skilled worker visas will be awarded to those who gain enough points.”

“The new immigration rules will ensure that businesses can recruit the most highly qualified from across the globe to drive the economy forwards and keep the UK at the frontier of innovation,” the country added.

To obtain a skilled worker visa, applicants must have a job offer in one of the high-demand positions listed in the skills shortage list.

We have detailed the tech-related positions on the UK skills shortage list below.

Industry Positions
Chemical Scientists Only jobs in the nuclear industry
Biological scientists and biochemists All jobs
Physical scientists Only the following jobs in the construction-related ground engineering industry:
• engineering geologist
• hydrogeologist
• geophysicistOnly the following jobs in the oil and gas industry:
• geophysicist
• geoscientist
• geologist
• geochemist
• technical services manager in the decommissioning and waste areas of the nuclear industry
• senior resource geologist and staff geologist in the mining sector
Civil engineers All jobs
Mechanical engineers All jobs
Electrical engineers All jobs
Electronics engineers All jobs
Design and development engineers All jobs
Production and process engineers All jobs
Engineering professions not elsewhere classified All jobs
IT business analysts, architects, and systems designers All jobs
Programmers and software development professionals All jobs
Web design and development professionals All jobs
Information technology and communications professionals not elsewhere classified Only cybersecurity specialists
2425 Actuaries, economists and statisticians – only bio-informaticians and informaticians Only bio-informaticians and informaticians
Quality control and planning engineers All jobs
Graphic designers All jobs
Secondary education teaching professionals Only teachers in maths, physics, science (where an element of physics will be taught), computer science, and Mandarin

IT salaries in the UK

Remuneration for IT-related positions in the UK is much higher than it is locally.

However, it is important to note that the cost of living in the UK, especially in cities such as London, is considerably high.

It is far more expensive to rent an apartment in London than in Johannesburg, and the property you will get for the same price will be nowhere near as large.

Below are the average salaries for 10 popular IT jobs in South Africa and the UK.

The UK salary figures are listed in pounds (GBP) and are paired with a converted South African rand figure for comparison.

IT Salary Comparison
Job South Africa United Kingdom
Computer Support Specialist R174,500 £21,268 (R455,440)
Web Developer R194,817 £25,528 (R546,666)
Database Administrator R203,277 £30,053 (R643,566)
System Administrator R232,483 £25,471 (R545,445)
Information Security Analyst R299,073 £33,275 (R712,563)
Software Engineer R367,988 £37,041 (R793,209)
DevOps Engineer R403,376 £41,865 (R896,512)
Data Engineer R450,025 £39,988 (R856,317)
IT Manager R500,685 £40,116 (R859,058)
Senior Solutions Architect R965,437 £72,405 (R1,550,506)

Now read: New laws for sending “intimate images” on WhatsApp in South Africa – How you will be affected

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The tech skills that could get you into the UK