The latest report by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation reveals that while salaries are continuing to fall,
the speed of decline has slowed of late, and one expert asserts that secretarial wages have remained comparatively stable.
Elizabeth Hunt’s 2008 salary survey showed that salaries in the sector remained reasonably strong despite economic pressures.
Demand for good office support staff, such as an administrator or Executive PA, remained resilient, particularly in contrast to professional disciplines.
It also found that there was increased demand for legal secretary staff.
In addition, Elizabeth Hunt’s results showed that people who had undergone secretarial training and were seeking jobs in the sector were increasingly looking for employers that offered benefits packages as well as good wages, although salary levels remained their priority.
Unsurprisingly, it revealed that average wages varied depending on the area of the UK. For example, bilingual secretarial staff earned between £25,000 and £29,000 a year in London, with the maximum salary rising to £30,000 in the capital’s West End.
In Birmingham, the equivalent wage stood at between £18,000 and £25,000, while in Leeds, bilingual secretarial took home on average £26,500 annually.
The Elizabeth Hunt survey revealed that the West End secretarial market in London was steady, with some larger than usual salaries being seen.
It reported that demand for high-calibre permanent candidates were always in demand, regardless of the economic conditions.
Executive Assistants stood to earn the most in this lucrative area of the capital, with the maximum annual salary for these employees standing at £60,000.
This was closely followed by human resources managers, who took home £55,000 a year at the upper limit, office managers, on a potential £50,000 salary and PAs whose earning power ranged to £45,000 at its highest.
These wages were fairly consistently reflected in the City district of London, where Elizabeth Hunt reported there were still too few skilled candidates to meet the demand for secretarial staff.
In the City, executive assistants had a maximum earning power of £45,000, while PAs had the potential to take home a £35,000 annual salary.
Fellow recruitment company Reed’s survey told a similar story. The report said that the sector did not show signs of slowing during the early part of 2008 and recounted a continuing shortage of talent in the secretarial jobs market.
The survey showed that the average maximum salary for PAs across the UK stood at £25,000 a year, with this figure rising to £30,000 for London.
Secretaries around Britain typically stood to earn a potential £20,000 salary, with a London-based employee taking home a £25,000 pay cheque, at its highest.
Reed forecasted that salaries could rise by three per cent on average across the UK, or by 3.4 per cent in London.
In terms of the sector they worked in, secretarial staff were, on average, able to earn up to £22,000 in the finance market, or £21,000 in distribution, manufacturing, services or for a charitable company.
A PA, meanwhile, typically stood to take home £26,000 in the services and finance sectors and £25,000 working in distribution, retail or for a non-profit organisation.
‘Holding Their Own’
Obviously, market conditions have changed between 2008 and 2009 and Steven Kirkpatrick, managing director of general staffing at Spring Group, the parent company of Elizabeth Hunt, provides an update on the current situation.
“In relative terms, salaries in the secretarial and administrative profession are holding their own, but as with most sectors there has been a decline in permanent salaries,” he says.
“We are finding that due to the economic backdrop, secretarial and administrative candidates are prepared to accept slightly reduced salaries. These are, however, in line with cuts elsewhere.”
Mr Kirkpatrick confirms that trends in London wages for administrative personnel remain consistent with 2008, saying that they “continue to outstrip those of elsewhere in the country”.
When it comes to the future of earnings in the sector, he says it is difficult to predict what will happen. “Employers will always require secretarial and administrative staff, but companies will probably look to employ such candidates at a salary of up to 20 per cent less than they would have done during the salary peak in late 2007,” he concludes.