In all of the talk about the minimum wage there is one issue that doesn’t get discussed. As an employee if you want to get paid more you have to be more valuable to the enterprise you work for. And that part makes sense. However, part of the current debate is that employees should get a higher wage than the minimum wage just because…even when it makes no economic or commercial sense.
If you don’t want a job, don’t finish school
According to the National Skills Bulletin 2014, published last July, in quarter 4 2013, the unemployment rate was the highest for persons with lower secondary education or less (18%). At 7%, the unemployment rate for third level graduates was the lowest. This outcome may appear to be intuitive but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. If you have the correct training, not necessarily a third level qualification, and if the economic conditions are right, you should expect a strong possibility of having a job.
It’s human nature to shy away from discussing people’s inadequacies or weaknesses in public. It is socially sensitive. When, for example, did you hear anyone say that a certain cohort of people is unemployed because they are unemployable? The fact that we at ISME even wrote the word ‘unemployable’ on this blog is sure to attract our detractors’ ire. But we’re saying it because no one else will. And it needs to be spelt out. U-N-E M-P-L-O-Y-A-B-L-E.
People will find work hard to find
But if the naysayers were being honest and caring they too would acknowledge that the best way to get people into to work is to make sure they stay in school and finish the education cycle. For sure there is a myriad of reasons why people choose to leave school early but one of the direct consequences of quitting early is that those people will find work hard to find – not everyone - but most of them.
The robots are coming, the robots are coming
The days of grunt labour are over. The US DIY chain, Home Depot, has started replacing store operatives with robots – and that’s only the beginning of the next industrial revolution. So unless our early school leavers are thinking of becoming self-employed (something that we at ISME would of course welcome) they themselves must choose to get the skills that will make them employable.
Being valuable is the quickest way of being valued
Commerce is blind. It doesn’t choose to have people languishing on the dole queues. If there’s work for properly skilled people they’ll be snapped up by employers. And though it’s in the employers’ interest to encourage government to provide trained workers, at the end of the day it’s down to the individual to make sure they have the skills training that can lift them above the minimum wage. Being valuable is the quickest way to being valued.