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