Sunday, 1 April 2012

The true employment inequality of our age

Some more thinking on from my post on the cerebral economy, I have come to a view on the true employment inequality of our age. It is not just that the gap in earnings (see the Great Divergence), but the gap in job benefits that are largely undocumented and unmeasured. The ones that come to mind (there may be more I haven't captured here) are (in no particular order):
  • Skills
  • Experience
  • Satisfaction
  • Status
  • Contacts (distinct from status as being people you interact with, rather than people who know about you)
So, any two jobs with an roughly equal package of salary, bonus, health care, pension, share options, etc could still be markedly different in the extent to which they develop the skills of the employee.

These factors (perhaps with the exception of satisfaction) have a compound interest type effect: the more your current job builds experience, the more your next job is likely to build experience, and so on. Over a lifetime, the person who's first job after school/college did more to develop skills is likely to be better off than the person who's first job didn't, even if both jobs had an equal financial remuneration package.

How should this problem be addressed?

For starters, job advertisements should make clear all the benefits, allowing potential employees to make more informed judgements (they may opt for a job with less financial remuneration, but more skills development for example). A common set of headings (like the above plus financial) would be ideal, allowing direct comparison role-to-role, and to force employers to think what experience they are offering.

To take that a little further, could some of these less tangible benefits be built into the terms of the contract? It would be easy where the job involves training for a specific course, but other clauses may also be possible.

1 comment:

adreama said...

Escaping the knowledge production line