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AIBU?

To not agree that anyone can do lower paid jobs and top jobs have to pay well as few people can do them?

206 replies

CheekboneMagazine · 07/02/2024 00:45

Following on from the 6 figure thread and a comment about justifying these wages.
I get annoyed by hearing this over and over.
I'm a social worker on 28K. I don't think everyone could do my job. Or do it well. Today my day has consisted of getting a small child to trust me enough in a half hour visit in order to talk to me about their feelings, speaking to an unaccompanied asylum seeker about benefits with no translator available, writing a report for court, being sworn at repeatedly by a teenager who was under the influence and chairing a multidisciplinary meeting with police, school, local authorities, NHS etc. I have to be able to talk to parents about their drug screening results without them feeling judged and disengaging, yet be able to turn around and hold my own with solicitors and judges.
I have to be relatable to people who are in the midst of a mental health crisis or addiction, but also professional and articulate. I have to be flexible and adapt to the many urgent referrals which come in but I cannot let any of my regular contact or statutory visits breach timeframes.

I'm certain that not people many could be teachers or nurses or air hostesses either. I'm certain I would make a terrible barista or bank clerk! Many doctors I know say that they wouldn't have the skills to be their own secretaries or P.A's.

These jobs are not poorly paid because they are unskilled or because anyone could do them. They are poorly paid because they are traditionally done by women and/or because they don't make anyone else substantially richer. In fact I really struggle to think of a female dominated profession which pays well. Maybe accountancy?

OP posts:
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DreadPirateRobots · 07/02/2024 09:03

WhenWereYouUnderMe · 07/02/2024 08:56

I do think it's a function of the capitalist structure. The most valued jobs are those that are seen to be creating jobs and wealth. The more you contribute to GDP by generating spend and employment the more valuable you are to society.

It's not correct but it's how it works.

You've heard the expression about a rising tide, right? The more high-earning, economically productive people we have, the more there is in the pot to pay teachers and nurses and social workers and improve their working conditions. Public servants should love the City; the more they cream off wealthy individuals, the better paid they can be.

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MorningSunshineSparkles · 07/02/2024 09:04

@Aishah231 purely because you mentioned never having met a good head teacher - my DC current primary school has an amazing one. She genuinely gives a shit about the other staff and children, she’s constantly in the playground at pickup and break times interacting with kids (and parents at pickup even if it’s just to say hi as each child is collected). But this is the third PS I’ve had experience of (large age gaps with kids, moved areas once the older ones left PS but before younger ones started) and she is the only good head teacher I’ve ever met.

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Ginmonkeyagain · 07/02/2024 09:04

@minipie exactly that. The problem with worling for public bodies is your pay is decided on more than just "how much do we need to pay to attract and retain the right skills for the job".

There are lots of politics at play and where the public sector is the only or dominant employer then wages are pretty much always held down. This is one of the reason why medical staff in the USA are paid much more than medical staff here.

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MistressoftheDarkSide · 07/02/2024 09:04

YANBU OP. And thank God for people like you doing your job with a true sense of vocation.

Funnily enough caught a YouTube video this morning that pointed out that as women do break into male dominated fields like IT wages start to go down.

Because making money for its own sake has become more important than creating a functioning society we're a bit stuffed. And archaic views of job worth measured by the sex of the person doing them is still a thing.

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Merrymouse · 07/02/2024 09:09

DreadPirateRobots · 07/02/2024 08:51

You're missing the point.

The market rewards skills according to their value (their ability to make money) and their scarcity, not their difficulty. Your job is very difficult, in many ways. But the skills required to do it aren't particularly high-value, and there also isn't sufficient scarcity to push the salary up.

A "public service" job is pretty much always going to be low value from a salary POV, because bluntly put, there is no money in doing it; the state puts a finite budget against an infinite bottomless need. You either have to make your peace with that or do something else.

There are other factors.

A job that can be offered part time to fit around childcare may be less well paid, and also effectively subsidised by the other parent.

We currently rely on foreign health and care workers. There is a scarcity, but the gap is filled (to an extent) from poorer countries.

We have a shortage of maths teachers and that is a real problem for everyone, but the market isn’t stepping in to fill the gap by paying maths teachers more.

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Halfemptyhalfling · 07/02/2024 09:12

I think some jobs are paid more because they are traditional jobs for those with a private education...

However trades like plumbers are now paid well because too few people want to do them

Some management jobs like headteacher people don't want to do due to lose job if failed Ofsted

Also in 2010 people thought public sector overpaid steady jobs so deliberate Tory policy to reduce pay to below private sector ( now country is falling apart as better to work in Tesco than a pub or as a TA)

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DreadPirateRobots · 07/02/2024 09:13

Merrymouse · 07/02/2024 09:09

There are other factors.

A job that can be offered part time to fit around childcare may be less well paid, and also effectively subsidised by the other parent.

We currently rely on foreign health and care workers. There is a scarcity, but the gap is filled (to an extent) from poorer countries.

We have a shortage of maths teachers and that is a real problem for everyone, but the market isn’t stepping in to fill the gap by paying maths teachers more.

Edited

Importing workers is a key way a market meets a need, in every sector. Ask anyone who farms or develops software.

PP have discussed upthread the fact that market forces operate slightly differently when the government is the primary employer. A rise in wages may also simply be unviable for jobs that are low value, in which case the government seeks alternative incentive and training structures, exactly as they are doing; maths teachers get additional funds to train etc.

Yes, jobs that can easily be done PT often have suppressed wages, for simple reasons: it costs more to employ 2 people 0.5 than it does to employ 1 person 1FTE, and because there is more competition for them, so they can be paid less.

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Jellycatspyjamas · 07/02/2024 09:14

Public servants should love the City; the more they cream off wealthy individuals, the better paid they can be.

That’s great in theory but you also see how far higher earners will go to reduce their tax burden - people earning well into six figures complaining they don’t get support with childcare, moaning about not getting child benefit, throwing money at their pension to get under the £100,000 threshold etc. Which is their right but it means there’s less tax income in the pot to support public sector services.

Its fine saying teachers, nurses, social workers, carers should be paid more, but no one wants to pay more tax to cover it.

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CreateHope · 07/02/2024 09:17

@DreadPirateRobots of course cos rich people just love paying tax and sharing it with those who work in the public sector 🙄. There are companies making millions for other rich people to help each other evade taxes. All entirely legal but utterly fucking immoral. A plague on all their houses 🤬

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ClairDeLaLune · 07/02/2024 09:17

You are immensely underpaid OP. You do an incredibly valuable job, and you are massively undervalued. Your post sums up to me much of what is wrong with this country and the capitalist system.

Sadly our society places way too much value on money and making money. Your profession doesn’t make money, so it isn’t valued in monetary terms. It’s funded by the taxpayer, and people don’t like paying more tax.

Your post reminds me of why I am and always have been a socialist.

I value you OP. Thank you for what you do, and thank you for posting and raising awareness.

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DreadPirateRobots · 07/02/2024 09:19

Jellycatspyjamas · 07/02/2024 09:14

Public servants should love the City; the more they cream off wealthy individuals, the better paid they can be.

That’s great in theory but you also see how far higher earners will go to reduce their tax burden - people earning well into six figures complaining they don’t get support with childcare, moaning about not getting child benefit, throwing money at their pension to get under the £100,000 threshold etc. Which is their right but it means there’s less tax income in the pot to support public sector services.

Its fine saying teachers, nurses, social workers, carers should be paid more, but no one wants to pay more tax to cover it.

People are people. People respond to incentives. No one voluntarily pays more tax than they absolutely have to. That doesn't matter (and most of the City are on faaaaaaar more than 100k and don't bother with penny-ante chicanery like paying more into a pension). It doesn't matter; the money that pays public servants mostly comes from these high-earning people, and the more people who push into the highest tax band, the better for everyone.

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InkySplott · 07/02/2024 09:21

@CheekboneMagazine

Wow all that stress for 28k no wonder social work is high turnover. Yes it's a dedication but 28k ! That's appalling.

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InkySplott · 07/02/2024 09:23

Danikm151 · 07/02/2024 00:49

Accounting doesn’t pay that well either!


I totally agree. There are higher ups who have their PA’s doing all the scheduling work and they’re paid a tenth of their bosses wage.

carers are paid a pittance but not everyone has the skills to care. Or childcare

Dealing with the public is a thankless task but the pay is crap!

Bang on comment: Not everyone has the skills for care . Some of them don't have the qualities like patience or compassion.

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InkySplott · 07/02/2024 09:24

CheekboneMagazine · 07/02/2024 00:53

@BobbyBiscuits but I don't want to. I love what I do. I just don't understand why we can't be paid a living wage for doing what we're naturally good at.

Please keep on doing what you are doing. Even if you have to take a break and come back to it .

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Jellycatspyjamas · 07/02/2024 09:27

People are people. People respond to incentives. No one voluntarily pays more tax than they absolutely have to.

Indeed, but the same people then, very patronisingly, talk about how nurses, teachers, social workers should be paid more, complain about poor healthcare or public services.

We’re talking about 4% of the population earning over £100k, so the smallest group of high earner - despite what mumsnet would have you believe. If people want better services or think public sector workers should be better paid they need to pay more tax.

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InkySplott · 07/02/2024 09:30

Retail has become very stressful for the minimum wage , staff not being replaced, your hours changed to suit them often at last notice and tough if you have a dental appointment , holidays given to you when it suits or requests withheld if you don't do what they want , expected to do the work of two people, and expected to confront shoplifters. This is a well known high street chain who once had a reputation for looking after its staff . There is a very high turnover in staff which I think I is what these companies want . A disposable workforce that they can hire and fire at will.

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Usernamen · 07/02/2024 09:31

In fact I really struggle to think of a female dominated profession which pays well. Maybe accountancy?

Law and Medicine are now female dominated, so that argument falls down straight away. It’s not even a recent trend - Law schools and medical school have had a higher proportion of female students for well over 10 years.

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Naptrappedmummy · 07/02/2024 09:36

Because capitalism means people aren’t paid according to how morally justified their job is. I do a ‘publicly useful’ job and am on a similarish wage to you. I don’t want the government to announce pay increases, where the cash vanishes into the ether and doesn’t regenerate itself, at the cost of spending on other things. I want them to spend the money on infrastructure, attracting business, rejoining the EU forming better trade relationships and improving investment. Then the engine will start again, the economy will sustain itself and expand rather than just throwing cash sticking plasters at whoever shouts the loudest.

However this can only happen when the public realise to spend brass we have to make brass, and a quarter of our workforce out of work yet using all the services is massively holding us back. If we could get half of them back to work that would make a big different.

To compare before anyone starts with the ‘tax the rich’, the private school VAT will raise less than 1% of the education budget and ending non dom status would raise 0.5% of the NHS budget. People see huge numbers like ‘ending non doms would raise 1.6 billion’ and assume that number would fix everything as it seems so massive. But the sums needed to fix the country are in the hundreds of billions if not more.

It’s like the public, or at least posters on here, simply don’t believe things cost money and we have to make it in order to spend it 🤯

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Thebestwaytoscareatory · 07/02/2024 09:40

DreadPirateRobots · 07/02/2024 09:03

You've heard the expression about a rising tide, right? The more high-earning, economically productive people we have, the more there is in the pot to pay teachers and nurses and social workers and improve their working conditions. Public servants should love the City; the more they cream off wealthy individuals, the better paid they can be.

Except that doesn't work in reality as the wealthy seek to reduce their tax liability and have the means to do so.

There's been a 26% decoupling between productivity and wages since the 1980s, meaning workers now receive a smaller share of their productivity than they used too and the difference isn't finding its way into the treasury's coffers either (I'll let you guess where it goes).

Part of the problem is that capitalism isn't satisfied with just profit, it demands growth too. £1bn profit in yr1 is good, a £1bn profit in yr2 is a failure, a £1bn profit in yr3 is a catastrophe. This has led to a "profit growth before all" mindset which badly needs addressed.

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Merrymouse · 07/02/2024 09:42

DreadPirateRobots · 07/02/2024 09:13

Importing workers is a key way a market meets a need, in every sector. Ask anyone who farms or develops software.

PP have discussed upthread the fact that market forces operate slightly differently when the government is the primary employer. A rise in wages may also simply be unviable for jobs that are low value, in which case the government seeks alternative incentive and training structures, exactly as they are doing; maths teachers get additional funds to train etc.

Yes, jobs that can easily be done PT often have suppressed wages, for simple reasons: it costs more to employ 2 people 0.5 than it does to employ 1 person 1FTE, and because there is more competition for them, so they can be paid less.

The point about part time jobs is that for various reasons the salary paid is often not a good measure of comparative value, which is what the OP is discussing. Women are most likely to work part time and jobs dominated by women tend to be badly paid.

Again, if your wage structure relies on the poor economy of another country, it is not assigning a value to the skill, it’s just exploiting global disparities between populations.

One of the biggest problems is that the market is supposed to reward success but also weed out failure. However success also brings the power to control resources and protect assets and continue failing.

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minipie · 07/02/2024 09:43

Usernamen · 07/02/2024 09:31

In fact I really struggle to think of a female dominated profession which pays well. Maybe accountancy?

Law and Medicine are now female dominated, so that argument falls down straight away. It’s not even a recent trend - Law schools and medical school have had a higher proportion of female students for well over 10 years.

Yes BUT numbers of women in law firms drop off hugely at around age 30 and above - which also tends to be when the 6 figures kicks in. At senior levels in law firms it is still mostly men. Women leave law or go in house or to smaller firms which pay less.

Wouldn’t be surprised if the same applies in medicine - women 30+ often go part time or choose more flexible (but also less well paid) specialisms.

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Merrymouse · 07/02/2024 09:54

minipie · 07/02/2024 09:43

Yes BUT numbers of women in law firms drop off hugely at around age 30 and above - which also tends to be when the 6 figures kicks in. At senior levels in law firms it is still mostly men. Women leave law or go in house or to smaller firms which pay less.

Wouldn’t be surprised if the same applies in medicine - women 30+ often go part time or choose more flexible (but also less well paid) specialisms.

Yes - partner in a corporate law firm = very well paid. Working part time as a solicitor, not so well paid.

I think you need to be close to power and money to be very well paid.

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Merrymouse · 07/02/2024 09:59

DreadPirateRobots · 07/02/2024 09:19

People are people. People respond to incentives. No one voluntarily pays more tax than they absolutely have to. That doesn't matter (and most of the City are on faaaaaaar more than 100k and don't bother with penny-ante chicanery like paying more into a pension). It doesn't matter; the money that pays public servants mostly comes from these high-earning people, and the more people who push into the highest tax band, the better for everyone.

Better to have a broad tax base of well paid workers than to rely on taxation of a few high paid individuals. (Although maybe that is what you mean)

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anonhop · 07/02/2024 10:00

I would've loved to be a teacher, but I looked at the likely salary, progression etc and I thought about what I wanted from life (the kind of lifestyle, wanted to live in south east to be near family etc) and realised that the two couldn't go together.

Ultimately, I chose to do a different job, whereas some choose to sacrifice lifestyle. Neither is the "right choice". Although I do think teaching & SW is underpaid, I think it's quite an entitled view to think you should always be able to choose the job you love and have a good salary. Life is full of compromises & balance.

Enough people are putting job satisfaction/ fulfilment (in teaching, nursing, SW etc) above pay that the gov can just about manage to keep pay low. If people weren't willing to work for that money, there'd be nobody in these jobs (i accept there is a shortage).

I wish you all the best in your career and I'm sure you'll move up the ranks quickly.

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Jellycatspyjamas · 07/02/2024 10:12

Enough people are putting job satisfaction/ fulfilment (in teaching, nursing, SW etc) above pay that the gov can just about manage to keep pay low. If people weren't willing to work for that money, there'd be nobody in these jobs (i accept there is a shortage).

Except people aren’t. There are significant recruitment issues in teaching and social work.

In social work many child protection teams are running at 50% capacity because they can’t recruit and retain staff. The same teams that get castigated every time there’s a child death. The profession is unsustainable in its current form and salary is part of the issue. People want decent public protection (or at least they weep and wail when it doesn’t happen) but no one wants to pay for it.

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