These are the best and worst jobs for a pay rise in 2024

Some sectors are planning for pay rises in 2024, while others count the pennies. Could a career change benefit your bank account this year?

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Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young
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Today’s job market is a tale of two worlds. While some sectors enjoy bountiful wage raises, others are taking a cautious approach to payroll planning. Now, new research finds that the divide will become even more pronounced this year.

Based on a survey of UK businesses, Startups has analysed the sectors poised for significant pay increases in 2024. Leading the pack is the technology sector, where 80% of firms feel confident they can match employee pay expectations.

At the other end of the spectrum is hospitality, where thin margins mean that one fifth of restaurants and cafes will struggle to increase wages in the next 12 months.

Should you expect a pay rise this year?

Towards the end of 2023, Startups asked a representative sample of 546 UK businesses how confident they were feeling about their ability to raise employee salaries in the year ahead.

Based on the results, workers should prepare for a payday jackpot in 2024. More than half of all businesses in every sector said they would be likely or very likely to raise pay.

In two industries, finance and leisure, no organisation responded negatively to the question, suggesting a very high level of confidence.

IndustryNot likelyLikely
Technology and Software7%80%
Finance and Fintech0%75%
Healthcare and Life Sciences7%70%
Manufacturing and Engineering13%70%
E-commerce and Retail9%70%
Professional Services4%67%
Creative Arts and Media4%65%
Agriculture and Food Production16%63%
Hospitality and Tourism19%59%

Startups’ findings are good news for technology workers, who can expect a big windfall this year. Last year, many tech firms were forced to inflate salaries to access in-demand talent like software engineers.

With companies scrambling to keep pace with the ever-evolving tech landscape this year, generous raises are expected to attract and retain top minds. 

Finance is another industry that has seen rapid digitalisation over the past few years. As banking services increasingly move online companies have been pushed towards topics such as embedded finance.

Luckily, the sector seems confident it can keep pace with salary demands, as 75% of companies say they are likely to meet employee pay expectations this year. 

Tech-phobic firms struggle to keep up

Less positively, employees in the education and agriculture sectors are only 65% and 63% likely to meet pay demands, respectively. This shortfall could be due to both sectors lagging behind when it comes to embracing cost-saving technological solutions. 

Startups’ survey also uncovered that firms adopting new and developing software such as AI are more likely to feel optimistic about their business performance overall in 2024.

Online learning platforms and educational technology (EdTech) are disrupting traditional education models, but smaller firms operating on tight margins may struggle to find funding for these advancements.

It’s a similar story in agriculture. Cutting-edge tools like drones and AI-powered sensors hold immense potential, but their hefty price tags act as a barrier for many farmers. 

The contrast between tech-embracing startups and struggling sectors like education and agriculture highlights the critical correlation between tech adoption and financial confidence.

Hospitality pay frustrations boil over

At the bottom of the wage forecast lies hospitality, battered by a relentless trifecta of inflation, staffing shortages, and subdued consumer spending in 2023. 

The storm shows no signs of abating, leaving pubs, cafes, and restaurants facing a precarious tightrope walk over the next 12 months.

While wage hikes will not be completely absent, these are likely to be paltry in comparison to the tech boom’s gold rush. 19% of hospitality businesses admit they won’t be able to meet pay demands in 2024.

The results raise questions about whether pubs, cafes, and restaurants, already struggling to attract and retain top talent, will be able to compete with more generous sector pay packets.

Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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