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.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Fly away

I’m going to Scotland!
Well, I finally bit the bullet. I’ve been planning to go to Europe again for about 8 months and have always wanted to go to Scotland but have never made it north – close, once; Newcastle – but not farther than that.

So I’m to Inverness, home of Loch Ness and the fabled monster, Nessie, and also home to Culloden (photo at left here), where the highland clans were destroyed by Bonnie Prince Charlie, who may or may not have been a pawn of the British, who were quite terrified of the Clans and their power.

Thank you very much to Chris O'Byrne for this gorgeous photo (at right) of Urquhart Castle, as seen from a placid Loch Ness.

I’m excited to see my daughter, Alex, who’s an au pair for a family in Inverness, and to see my adopted family in Hook, (On the map here, it is right north of the number 5).

Hook is in the south east of England, about 20 minutes from Stonehenge, and almost entirely at the other end of the island from where Alex is in Inverness.

I’ll be posting photos here when I am back from Scotland so keep an eye out.