Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Working for it.

There have been some really interesting radio programs on today -- CBC -- about the state of working in Alberta and in Canada.

Lots of conversation about lack of skilled workers and such.

What was missing, at least from the hour I listened to, was a discussion of wages.

As a comparative, my eldest will graduate from her degree in one month. She has spent the last 3 years pursuing her degree and, at the same time, for the last year and a bit, working for a large industrial design firm here. It is a practicum so one cannot expect full time, regular employee wages; however, she makes all of $1 more per hour than do employees of Tim Horton's Donuts, who make $10 per hour at present.

Last Friday night, she was out scrounging for fast food and stopped at Chicken on the Way, where she noticed a Help Wanted sign in the window. Wage? $14 per hour for slinging hash.

So here's my question: why do employers moan and carry on about how hard it is to find employees when there is this huge disconnect between what educated, skilled people make and what Joe Buddy makes at a greasy spoon?

In my five or so years in banking, I met loads of people who not only had a BA in finance, they'd added the Canadian Securities Course to their credentials, meaning they'd spent at least the last five years in full-time school - following 12 in the regular school system. Entry level wages in banks range from $25,000 to $39,000 on a good day. Yet, a person with a 10th grade education can walk into Chicken on the Way and start making $27,000 a year working full time with no education at all.

When my daughter graduates from her degree and becomes full-time staff at the huge, wealthy industrial design firm, she will make $18 per hour, for a grand annual total of $35,000 annual, which is $7700 more than the greasy spoon job but which extra will go to taxes. In effect, she will make as much as she would were she to work at the greasy spoon.

So for all you employers out there, heads up. People don't have loyalty to any company that doesn't respect them. Money isn't everything by any means, but it is a large part of the package.

Crap wages, disrespect for substantial years of education and an unwillingness to do everything to gain, keep and nurture employees are foundational ways to destabilize any business. In the current booming, growing, scortching hot economy, those habits are deadly.


  1. I've met a lot of ignorant "educated" people. I've also met a lot of really smart people that didn't have any formal schooling past high school.

    I, personally, have a higher respect for people that have a good work ethic and believe in the value of hard work.

    I'm not saying your eldest doesn't. Just expressing a view that a higher education doesn't mean as much in today's world as it used to.

  2. It is true that having a ton of education doesn't necessarily predispose someone to being ethical or nice, so point taken.

    The point of the blog, however, is to note that many people who bust it for three to four years - or more in the case of physicians in my city - are underpaid for the amount of time they put into their self-development and the contribution they can make to society and culture via their expertise.

    What's really sad is that there are so many educated people working unskilled jobs because 1) they can't find work in their field or 2) work in their field pays less than what they'd get in their job.

    It is a testament to my child's ethics and dedication that she is going to pursue her field regardless of being paid what amounts to comparative crap, despite the 20 hour days she has put in over the last three years of school.

  3. Additional Note:

    I noticed in your blog that you left school to pursue a spouse, which is lovely, especially given the 17 years. It does put your comments above into context, however. You're young. Go back to school.

  4. LOL, I would hardly call 37 young, but thanks.

    Actually I did very well without college. I started out in the hotel industry as a front desk clerk and 8 years later, before I decided to "retire", I was running a $3 million dollar a year business. I didn't need a higher education. I have brains, guts, and the willingness to work hard to get ahead. All my education was OTJ. A few lucky breaks and being in the right place at the right time didn't hurt either. :) I did very well financially without a college degree. When my husband retires from the Marine Corp, we will both be under 40 and financially set enough to retire permanently. Of course deciding not to have children put us ahead of the curve, financially.

    I do consider myself to be very educated, it's just self educated. I read extensively, I study what I want and what interests me; not because it's required for a degree, but because I want to improve myself.

    And I love to debate, if you couldn't tell. :)

  5. By the way, I've lurked on your blog for a while. I enjoy it. I especially loved the post about unlicensed animals. Very witty.

    I have a weird facination with reading blogs of people I don't know. Well written blogs, that is. Keep it up.

  6. Wendylicious, I loved your other reply! I haven't published it because it was personal but you made some excellent points.

    Down with credentialism and UP with SMART PEOPLE.

    Thanks for reading my little page of rants and craziness.

    Did you read the item on Bike Paths? Some animals are WAY smarter than some humans....



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