Get­ting richer quicker

A bet­ter ed­u­cated, higher-paid work­force is help­ing many earn their first mil­lion dol­lars faster, says Ca­reerOne Edi­tor Cara Jenkin.

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WORK­ERS are in­creas­ing their ed­u­ca­tion and skills to get ahead in the state’s wage mar­ket, lead­ing to a higher-skilled and wealth­ier labour force.

Lat­est Aus­tralian Bureau of Statis­tics fig­ures show more than half, or 57 per cent, of South Aus­tralia’s pop­u­la­tion aged be­tween 25 and 64 had a higher ed­u­ca­tional qual­i­fi­ca­tion in 2008, com­pared with 43.2 per cent in 1998.

Dur­ing the same pe­riod, the per­cent­age of the work­force earn­ing more than $2000 a week, or $104,000 a year, in­creased by more than 5 per cent, from 1 per cent to 6.6 per cent.

The per­cent­age of peo­ple with a bach­e­lor de­gree or above al­most dou­bled dur­ing the 10-year pe­riod, up from 12.2 per cent in 1998 to 21.8 per cent in 2008.

A 4 per cent in­crease in the num­ber of peo­ple with an ad­vanced diploma, diploma or cer­tifi­cate also oc­curred in the past 10 years – from 31 per cent to 35.1 per cent.

Flin­ders Uni­ver­sity Na­tional In­sti­tute of Labour Stud­ies di­rec­tor Pro­fes­sor Kostas Mavro­maras says work­ers’ pay does in­crease in line with gross do­mes­tic prod­uct but the roles and skills of the work­force have changed over time.

‘‘We’re get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter ed­u­cated, there’s no doubt about it,’’ he says. ‘‘We know that bet­terqual­i­fied work­ers are paid more.

‘‘We know that the pay of peo­ple with more ed­u­ca­tion has kept up quite well de­spite the fact that we have had many more peo­ple with a good ed­u­ca­tion.’’

ABIG pay cheque does not have to in­volve be­ing the best in the field or work­ing at the top of a multi­na­tional com­pany. South Aus­tralian work­ers are earn­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars a year in fields rang­ing from the tra­di­tional money-mak­ing sec­tors of fi­nance and busi­ness to lesser known rich jobs in prop­erty, real es­tate and ge­ol­ogy.

There is money to be made in a va­ri­ety of in­dus­tries in Ade­laide for ex­pe­ri­enced and ju­nior work­ers alike.

It means many em­ploy­ees now can work fewer than 10 years to earn their first mil­lion dol­lars.

The av­er­age South Aus­tralian worker earn­ing $842.90 aweek would need to work for 23 years be­fore ac­cu­mu­lat­ing their first mil­lion dol­lars in pay.

Uni­ver­sity of Ade­laide Cen­tre for Labour Re­search ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor As­so­ci­ate Pro­fes­sor John Spoehr says the num­ber of high-in­come earn­ers in SA will in­crease in com­ing years be­cause of ma­jor de­fence and min­ing projects.

He says highly spe­cialised per­son­nel, such as world-class en­gi­neers and project man­agers who are needed to work on the projects and in sup­port in­dus­tries, com­mand a high in­come.

‘‘At the top end of the labour mar­ket, you do have these peo­ple who are earn­ing any­where be­tween $150,000 and $500,000 a year,’’ he says.

‘‘There are lots of these jobs around, prob­a­bly more than what used to be in the past.

‘‘The per­sis­tence of ma­jor projects in South Aus­tralia is go­ing to in­crease that num­ber of high-in­come earn­ers over the next few years be­cause of the highly spe­cialised pro­fes­sion­als who are sought for these projects.’’

He pre­dicts the real es­tate in­dus­try soon will ex­pe­ri­ence an­other sig­nif­i­cant up swing and agents will be earn­ing high salaries in the next year or so be­cause of higher sale prices.

Most of the high-in­come earn­ers are se­nior and ex­pe­ri­enced staff but there are op­por­tu­ni­ties for young, mo­ti­vated work­ers to earn six-fig­ure salaries within five years of grad­u­at­ing, he says.

‘‘That’s not that un­com­mon and is look­ing to be more com­mon in years to come with the growth of the de­fence and re­sources sec­tor,’’ he says. ‘‘A high pro­por­tion of very se­nior per­son­nel are sourced in a global labour mar­ket . . . but then there’s an­other tier of work­ers who are not paid quite so much who have had a longestab­lished ca­reer work­ing lo­cally and worked their way up the ca­reer lad­der.

‘‘It’s true that in ac­coun­tancy and in se­nior fi­nan­cial roles, they can be quite young.’’

He says law and busi­ness ser­vices are other sec­tors which can pay young staff high salaries.

Work­ers who are uni­ver­sity ed­u­cated, with ex­pe­ri­ence and skills, tend to be paid more and be in the very se­nior roles which de­mand higher salaries, he says.

Stephanie Hor­lin-Smith, 28, is the gen­eral man­ager of Ade­laide bou­tique ac­com­mo­da­tion Clar­ion Ho­tel Soho.

She says there is money to be made in the ho­tel in­dus­try, par­tic­u­larly in ho­tel man­age­ment.

The most op­por­tu­ni­ties to earn a rich in­come in­volve work for large ho­tel chains and at fa­cil­i­ties with high star rat­ings, but small bou­tique ho­tels also of­fer well-paid work, she says.

‘‘The higher you move up, the higher the earn­ing po­ten­tial is . . . with any sort of man­age­rial role, you have the op­por­tu­nity to earn a high salary,’’ she says. ‘‘It’s a de­mand­ing job and it’s chal­leng­ing. ‘‘There is a lot rid­ing on their po­si­tion and they have a lot of re­spon­si­bil­ity.’’

She says many ho­tel gen­eral man­agers have trav­elled the world and worked over­seas, which adds to their ex­pe­ri­ence and there­fore the size of their pay cheque.

The Hays Salary Sur­vey re­veals spe­cialised and tech­ni­cal work, such as en­gi­neer­ing and in­for­ma­tion technology, pro­vides some of the high­est salaries be­cause of the lack of peo­ple with spe­cialised skills.

But fi­nance and busi­ness man­age­ment also pro­vides work­ers with large pay cheques.

High pay is one of the draw­cards to oc­cu­pa­tions which in­volve long hours, such as sur­geons and busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives.

Work­ers in ar­eas in which a skills short­age ex­ists, such as ge­ol­ogy, also get higher wages.

The sur­vey shows 87 per cent of busi­nesses in­creased the salary of their staff by up to 6 per cent in 2009.

The re­sources and in­for­ma­tion technology sec­tors in­creased their salaries the most, with 5 per cent and 12 per cent re­spec­tively of worker salaries in­creased by more than 10 per cent.


Clar­ion Ho­tel Soho gen­eral man­ager Stephanie Hor­lin-Smith, who says there is money to be made in the ho­tel in­dus­try.

The job rather than the money is what drew Sharon Gray, 41, to work in Ade­laide’s real es­tate in­dus­try. The Cocks Auld Real Es­tate agent and auc­tion­eer says there is the po­ten­tial to earn a high in­come in real es­tate as the salary is de­ter­mined by...

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