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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 17:48

Nellodee · 07/02/2024 17:42

A well educated workforce generates more income. A healthy workforce costs less in disability benefits and generates more income. A minimal prison population costs less and earns more. An fast, effective immigration system means lower costs in housing asylum seekers.

Spending as little as possible on public services does not necessarily reduce the tax burden and could quite easily increase it. In many cases, it’s false economy.

True. The problem is the long gap (often at least ten years, quite possibly up to 50) between an investment in public services being made and the resultant benefits and cost savings being achieved. A government's horizon is about five years because of the election cycle, and in any case the money you'll save in ten years is not available to you now to make that investment in the first place. If these problems were easy to solve, we would live in a different (and much better) world. As the best-meaning person in the world with good support, the money you are going to have to make systems better is always going to be not nearly as much as you'd like, and if you lose the next election in five years then your lovely twenty-year plan is fucked.

As they say: democracy is the worst political system except for every other political system.

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Emma8888 · 07/02/2024 19:18

"This is as far from the truth as it’s possible to be.
There is rarely a lack of people wanting or qualified to take highly paid positions. They can be filled with lower salaries than advertised.
Whereas there are tens of thousands of vacant nursing posts and yet the pay remains inadequate. Governments prefer to leave posts unfilled or pursue unethical recruitment from poor countries.
This is based in sexism and the undervalue of women’s work."

In my industry (specialized but not requiring specific qualifications like a doctor) we frequently have jobs that pay mid six figures open for months while they try and recruit. There are always applicants but they are rarely qualified (in terms of skills and experience, not paper). In most cases the only way to fill these roles is to employ a recruiter who poaches from competitors, and the only way to successfully poach those who otherwise wouldn't be looking is to offer more money, and so the cycle goes. I absolutely think that the money paid for these roles is crazy, yes, it's a job with a lot of pressure, long hours, etc. but even so, we aren't responsible for nuclear codes either. Incidentally the gender balance in this industry for the senior roles is about 50-50.

If every nurse currently employed by the NHS walked out tomorrow they would have no choice but to throw money at the problem. Even now I know of situations where they can't recruit in some specific circumstances so pay agency nurses more than double the NHS rate. That's it happening on a smaller scale. But I'd wager 90+% of nurses don't do it for the money, they do it because they enjoy helping others, job security, civic duty or other non cash reasons. So they won't quit en masse, so the government won't do much. Don't get me wrong, I'm massively grateful to nurses and other healthcare workers (and have family and friends employed by the NHS) and it would cause untold suffering if they quit. But the government also know that because they are not purely money motivated, they won't.

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Mumof2NDers · 07/02/2024 19:20

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?

Can add dental nurse to the traditionally female job and poorly paid! It’s shocking really.

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CroftonWillow · 07/02/2024 19:25

I don't agree few people can do higher paid jobs, as if they need to be particularly intelligent or talented. It's that empoyers pay for experience.

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Emma8888 · 07/02/2024 19:31

If it’s market forces, how come we have a shortage of teachers? If market forces were at work, pay for teachers would rise, until all the teaching posts were filled. But this has not happened.

Because it's not short enough, simply put. There aren't children going to empty classrooms and teaching themselves. Yes there are schools where class sizes are too large, as they cover for shortages. Or some subjects being taught by those really not qualified. But teachers care about kids and make-do with what's in front of them. If they didn't, short term it would be horrific and children would suffer, but long term you'd see money go up. I remember when PGCEs were heavily marketed at universities, got grants, bursaries etc. a quick google tells me that you can get up to £15,000 to train in an in-demand subject in Wales right now for example. So there is money being put towards the problem, just not across the board.

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chopinwaltz26 · 07/02/2024 19:34

Very many years ago at work a similar topic was raised. The union rep came around to drum up support for pay negotiations. He had a very interesting exchange with one of my (older, male) colleagues.
The upshot was (according to older, male colleague): no problem with people being paid the same money (wildly stupid as the work was incredibly different) as long as those, who enter the workforce after school, do not earn anything for the first 7 years to equalise the difference in earning with those, who spent time after school at university.
Union rep scuttled off very quickly. I was left wide-eyed (but not legless)!

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Merrymouse · 07/02/2024 19:43

If every nurse currently employed by the NHS walked out tomorrow they would have no choice but to throw money at the problem. 

But in the short term people would die.

We were supposed to learn a lesson about key workers during Covid, but it didn’t last long.

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OrderOfTheKookaburra · 07/02/2024 21:50

CheekboneMagazine · 07/02/2024 00:58

@MiaGee but plenty of men I know do the job they like and are good at, and are paid well. It's not impossible. Why does society not value these professions? After all we all pay for it? If your child needs an EHCP or a doctors appointment or an NHS autism assessment you will need the skills of a low paid public sector worker.

Maybe it's because men have well paying jobs it becomes easier for women to do a job they love that is not well paid. And then the cycle continues on.

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logo1236 · 07/02/2024 22:19

I agree op. I have two jobs - teaching assistant working with SEN adults and software engineering instructor. I think you can guess which one pays well and which one does not, but not anyone can do the TA job, it takes getting vulnerable people to trust you and feel safe around you. Meanwhile, and I am completely aware that people won't believe me when I say this, but anyone can be a software engineer, as it is a job role that should be renamed to Professional Google Searcher. This is why it really pisses me off that mostly men do this job and rank in cash and this is why I instruct on a women's only course

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BruFord · 08/02/2024 01:58

This is why it really pisses me off that mostly men do this job and rank in cash and this is why I instruct on a women's only course
Thanks

@logo1236 Interesting. Why do you think mostly men are Software Engineers? Do you think that women are somehow put off this career choice?

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rickershocker · 08/02/2024 07:02

I'm not sure what magical skills jobs like ceos and investment bankers have which justify the salary

Do you know any CEOs or ever worked with any? The CEO of my company makes decisions upon which the ability of thousands of workers to pay their bills depends. Not forgetting right outcomes for clients, many of whom are vulnerable.

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Islandgirl68 · 08/02/2024 07:53

You are completely underpaid for your job 28K!!, skills and qualifications. It does make me angry, when people get large to obscene salaries and say they deserve it because they work hard. No body can work that hard to justify some salaries people earn. And it makes out people on low wages don't work hard. Don't think you can say that about, teachers, nurses, social workers, police the list is long of people that work hard and quite often long hours and get rubbish money.

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logo1236 · 08/02/2024 08:09

BruFord · 08/02/2024 01:58

This is why it really pisses me off that mostly men do this job and rank in cash and this is why I instruct on a women's only course
Thanks

@logo1236 Interesting. Why do you think mostly men are Software Engineers? Do you think that women are somehow put off this career choice?

I think there are 2 reasons, first one is women are not encouraged to go into it and sometimes actively discoured when they express a desire to go into it, for example my family told me I shouldn't go into it because you need to be really smart to do it. Second one is that women doubt themselves more and decide to only look for a job that they know they will be really good at it, and software engineering is something that even if you studied for years there will still be so much you don't know.

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Merrymouse · 08/02/2024 08:12

rickershocker · 08/02/2024 07:02

I'm not sure what magical skills jobs like ceos and investment bankers have which justify the salary

Do you know any CEOs or ever worked with any? The CEO of my company makes decisions upon which the ability of thousands of workers to pay their bills depends. Not forgetting right outcomes for clients, many of whom are vulnerable.

But it’s still not clear that CEO remuneration reflects performance . If there is a failure the CEO often quietly moves onto the next new board room role (with a healthy pension package) and somebody else is installed to insist that everything has changed.

Its definitely a job with a lot of responsibility, but it’s still not clear that the CEO is many times more skilled than anyone else.

The company needs somebody to make big decisions that impact thousands of people, so they find somebody who looks like they fit the bill. Whether that mythical person exists is another matter.

In theory high pay should attract the best people, but it can also just create the incentive for a cover up.

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CheekboneMagazine · 08/02/2024 09:08

@Merrymouse I agree. Check out the Big Short book/ film. All those big banking CEOs who didn't feel any of the implications despite losing billions and making millions lose their homes.

OP posts:
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Maverickess · 08/02/2024 13:13

The traditionally low paid jobs are important enough to society that it is demanded that -

  • they are done well
  • they are done by people who care about the job they are doing
  • they are done by people with an aptitude for that role
  • they are done by people invested in the outcome for the customer or service user
  • they are done by people willing to take responsibility for the role they're doing
  • they are done by people willing to go above and beyond when the situation dictates
  • they are done by intelligent people with a good moral compass and who are willing to put themselves on the line to protect/serve/empower/care for other people when things go wrong


But, they're not important enough to -

  • Respect
  • Pay a wage that affords a standard of living rather than surviving, or doesn't need some form of top ups somewhere
  • Treat with civility
  • Listen to when they raise awareness or issues
  • Care about the people doing them as a human being
  • Have a realistic and manageable workload
  • Make attractive enough so that there's enough people willing to do the job



I mean see all the posts about all the 'shit customer service' and how it's not the customers problem that people get paid poor wages and treated badly for doing those jobs, demanding that the service is better, yet don't think that the lack of investment and respect in these types of roles by the government, employers and society in general, has any bearing on the lack of service and services we're now facing, the lack of people willing to do them.

If you tell people often enough and for long enough that they're uninspired and lazy, can't be bothered to or can't do better while providing a service that is wanted or needed, you really can't complain when they believe you and don't want to work in these services for the shit pay and conditions and then being told it's their own fault.
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JFabschair84 · 08/02/2024 20:45

It's absolutely crap but the service you provide costs money, and doesn't make money therefore will never pay well. There are no profit related bonuses, shares, commission etc which are part of high salaried jobs.

On the flip side, any profession that is majority based in care of some sort should never be done for the money. Once you make it so attractive financially, you lose the morally good people that are most suited to the job.

It sucks because the people that deserve the most get the least but they are so good at those jobs because they are intrinsically good people that are doing it because it's in their nature to care for others.

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Futb0l · 08/02/2024 20:49

Yanbu in a way. But what is rewarded isn't how hard something is as such, its scarcity of people with the skills and willingness to do a job.

The problem is, lots and lots of people have enough skills/traits/intelligence to learn or be trained to undertake most lower paid jobs. Or lots and lots of people fimd those jobs interesting, or appealing for other reasons (eg TAs liking school hours), so there's never a shortage of people to fill the role.

If you want say, a treasury management expert however.... it requires maths & technical abilities beyond most people. Add in that its not really something that interests many people, and you have less people available to do the job than are needed.

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AllProperTeaIsTheft · 08/02/2024 20:54

Because it's not short enough, simply put. There aren't children going to empty classrooms and teaching themselves. Yes there are schools where class sizes are too large, as they cover for shortages.

It's getting short enough. This term, my Y11 ds has sometimes had lessons where his class has had to be supervised by one member of staff in the main hall with several other classes. One year group was closed and sent home for a few days. At various points over the last couple of years, multiple classes (including GCSE classes) have had no qualified subject teacher for a term or two.

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Gobimanchurian · 08/02/2024 21:00

You're not wrong.

I was really hoping through covid there might be an awakening of some kind as to what jobs we value inn society.

Nope.. straight back to capitalism 😭

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Louisetopaz21 · 08/02/2024 21:06

I am an advanced practitioner social worker and on over £50000. Takes time to work up the pay scales.

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susiedaisy1912 · 09/02/2024 10:26

Gobimanchurian · 08/02/2024 21:00

You're not wrong.

I was really hoping through covid there might be an awakening of some kind as to what jobs we value inn society.

Nope.. straight back to capitalism 😭

This.

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Naptrappedmummy · 09/02/2024 11:15

But what do people actually want other than capitalism, realistically?

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Bloom15 · 09/02/2024 11:42

CurlsnSunshinetime4tea · 07/02/2024 01:21

the thing is, if you are bright enough to make it through the sw uni program you are equally bright enough to have undertaken studies in a field that pays more.
yes you are very underpaid for what you do BUT with a different focus you could easily have become an hr lawyer and have been paid more.

But lower paid jobs are vital and still need doing.

Or do you think carers etc. are more stupid than other people?!

YANBU OP - service and care sector especially are underpaid

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Acapulco12 · 09/02/2024 12:27

Bloom15 · 09/02/2024 11:42

But lower paid jobs are vital and still need doing.

Or do you think carers etc. are more stupid than other people?!

YANBU OP - service and care sector especially are underpaid

@Bloom15 - I don’t think @CurlsnSunshinetime4tea is saying that carers are less intelligent than other people at all. Nor are they disagreeing that lower-paid jobs are very important.

I think their point is that anyone who has done a social work uni qualification has the ability to do better paid jobs. This suggests to me that they’re saying that social workers are as intelligent, if not more intelligent, than people doing more ‘prestigious’ and more lucrative jobs. They’re also recognising that social workers are very under-paid.

I think the main point of Curls’ post is to say that social work is a crucial job that is also very under-paid.

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