Weighing In

Manila Bulletin, September 15, 2008 | Go to article overview

Weighing In


An applicant who will take a job at whatever pay just to get in, takes on an aggrieved air years after if he doesn't get a pay increase. The fact is, our salaries will never be enough because our needs change as we move up the career ladder. What we need is different from what we want but try telling that to your child who wants what his classmate has. You can't tell him his classmate's father is probably an executive while you are still an account officer. Wants and needs fuse in the face of demands by our significant others. This is the reason why there are collective bargaining exercises, productivity pay, longevity pay and, for government, salary standardization laws.

From a logical framework, what determines compensation? There is the preparation necessary to get a job done. In government for instance, if you finish law or medicine and consequently pass the board or the bar, your starting pay grade as a professional in that field is higher. It takes 8 to 10 years to be able to practice these two professions and a premium is paid for the extra years of training. There is the degree of difficulty that goes with the job. There is the scarcity of the skill or talent versus the demand for that particular occupation. You may be the only expert in a particular field but if there is no demand for it, compensation will lag behind. This is one reason why, for instance, technical skills sometimes command better pay than occupations requiring a college degree. If I knew better, I would have been a welder for off shore oil rigs. They are offered $ 2 to 3 thousand dollars a month with paid vacations every 6 weeks. I guess they are also paid for the loneliness of being in the middle of nowhere and the danger of working amidst waves, storms and sharks.

A friend who had a recent meeting in Singapore called me up and said: Did you know that the entry level pay for executives in the Singapore government is about half a million pesos? …

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