Dispute over the 'trap average' of SW technician wages
Weighted average applied according to the change of statistical law
Industry "KRW 30,000 less than the existing method"
Concerns about discrepa

Dispute arose over the results of the '2021 SW Technician Wage Survey'. As a result of applying and surveying the first weighted average method by the Korea Software Industry Association (hereinafter referred to as KOSA), the average daily wage for software engineers increased by 2.6% compared to the previous year, but SW companies countered that the wages decreased compared to the existing arithmetic average method. The KOSA explained that the weighted average reflects market conditions more accurately than the arithmetic average.

The core of the dispute is that the average daily wage of a SW engineer applied in 2021 by the arithmetic average, which is the existing method, is KRW 343,025 and KRW 358,096 in 2022. When weighted average method is applied, they received average of KRW 320,358 in 2021, and KRW 328,613 in 2022. The point is that it has decreased by 20,000 to KRW 30,000 to the range of KRW 320,000.

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The results of the SW technician wage survey are important data that is used not only to set wages (budget) for public and private companies, but also to calculate the cost of software projects. If KRW 30,000 decreases compared to before, concerns about software companies and developers are bound to increase. VTW CEO Miriae Cho pointed out, “The IT wage has not decreased since the MB government, and last year, the average company increased it by more than 10%. It makes us to accept the result of survey.” She also said, “There is no rule that changing the arithmetic average to a weighted average will lower the number, and it makes me question of the setting of survey group.” CEO Cho said that clear standards should be disclosed.

The KOSA is in the position that they understand that the survey results are not aligned with the sentiment of SW companies. However, he explained that the weighted average is the result of a survey focusing on the population set by the National Statistical Office, and to deny this would mean not to recognize all nationally-approved statistics in other fields. Younghoon Cho, head of KOSA's office, said, "In the SW industry, there are many companies with less than 10 employees in the survey sample, and it is believed that the transfer of intermediate-level personnel to platforms and game companies affected the results."

Jeongsam Kim, director of software policy at the Ministry of Science and ICT, said, “We found that the result was statistically reduced wages as we investigated the standards changed according to the Statistical Act. We are discussing various measures with the KOSA, in order to adjust survey method in order to align with reality, and also the method to improve SW project budget guide.”

Previously, the KOSA applied the 'sample weighting method' obtained by applying the number of populations by SW company sales and number of employees, rather than the existing simple average (arithmetic average) method. It is a method to overcome the 'average trap' by increasing the survey sample and assigning weight to the section with a high proportion in terms of sales or employees. As a result, it is estimated that the average daily wage of a software engineer in 2021 will be KRW 328,613, which is 2.6% higher than the applied value in 2021, which is KRW 320,358. The values applied in 2021 are also converted and compared using the changed weighted average method.

By Staff Reporter Ho-cheon An (hcan@etnews.com)