There has been a growing trend in many companies, both in the public and private sector, to make job titles more attractive, which serve as a catch for many professionals; however, they later realise that the compensation package does not match the job title, their qualifications and experiences.
Many people dress up nicely every day, but most of their income goes back into buying work clothes and covering transport and lunch. When you ask them about the type of work that they do, several of them are proud to respond with their fancy job titles, which, to some extent, gives the impression that they are decently compensated. However, when you go beyond the surface of the conversation, you start to realise that there is a disconnect between the two elements.
A lot of people are tricked into accepting these embellished roles because they seem prestigious and will certainly enhance their résumés, but they are really not sustainable. Some associate their worth with a position, so they find it difficult to leave their company to seek opportunities elsewhere. Others remain in their positions with the hopes of getting a promotion one day, but sometimes that is not realised until years later, while cost of living and inflation continue to soar.
Still, there are those who are brave enough to reorient their careers or learn new skills because achieving financial stability requires a certain level of aggression and risk. For this reason, many young people continue to question the relevance of pursuing traditional tertiary education. I often ask university students whether they believe higher education is a sham/scam. Apart from the few benefits they cite, such as having a first degree, majority of them believe it is not worth studying and remaining in Jamaica. They question the returns on their investments, especially given that they pay exorbitant tuition fees.
Even among educators this has been a peeve for years. They are encouraged to pursue higher degrees but the so-called increase they get is quite disgraceful. We can, therefore, understand their frustration with the Government concerning the compensation review package. Why seek to take away some of their benefits when they are already not paid very well, compared to what obtains in other countries?
Young professionals also assess the salary gaps between what they earn and what their senior colleagues get. This is sometimes very revealing. It could be easily perceived that wealth is only to be circulated in a certain bubble. It is one of the major reasons many young professionals are opting to migrate to occupy jobs that do not even have fancy titles but come with an attractive compensation package. After all, what is the end goal? "Rich, a lie?"
Sometime ago there was a call for human resource departments within companies to include the compensation package range on job advertisements, especially in private companies. At the very least it provides a clear picture of the scope within which one can expect to be compensated. Outside of that, it would be useful if we started to foster a culture of being more open to talking about salaries. Young people are often told to research the company and find out certain relevant information before going to an interview, but it is not helpful to them if everybody is tight-lipped about one of the most crucial elements of the job offer: remuneration.
Additionally, they should be taught the art of negotiating. One of the mistakes many young professionals make is that they readily accept an offer that is given to them without asking if a top-up is possible. Sometimes they are so eager to get a job or a promotion that they do not take the time to ask the pertinent questions. Notwithstanding, it is somewhat dishonest of companies that know they can pay more but still propose a far less package to a prospective employee.
Oneil Madden is interim chair/head of Department of Humanities and lecturer in language(s) and linguistics at Northern Caribbean University. He is also a PhD candidate in applied linguistics at Clermont Auvergne University, France. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or email@example.com.
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