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Low wages: Affecting several hundred thousand academics

As a new study shows, a degree largely protects against unemployment. However, it does not guarantee a good income! For example, almost one in ten academics earned no more than EUR 9.30 gross per hour in 2012, as the “Welt am Sonntag” reported, citing calculations by the University of Duisburg-Essen. These are low wages.

Low wages: the facts

“According to the study, 8.6 per cent of dependent employees with a university degree received a low wage. According to the IAQ, this is two-thirds of the median hourly wage – in 2012 this was 9.30 euros gross per hour. According to the report, about 688,000 people were affected. “For years, there has been a constant group of academically trained workers who work for low wages,” said IAQ expert Claudia Weinkopf. The number has fluctuated roughly between seven and almost twelve percent for years, she said. According to the IAQ figures, among female academics the risk of earning low wages is almost twice as high as among men. While 11.4 percent of women with a university degree work in the low-wage sector, the figure for men is only 6.1 percent.

The number of unemployed university graduates increased in 2013 by an annual average of 21,400 to 191,100 people compared to the previous year, the newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported, citing figures from the Federal Employment Agency (BA). This is an increase of 13 per cent. Among other things, the reason was the significant increase in the number of graduates. However, the risk of becoming unemployed remains very low for academics, the BA explained. Their unemployment rate remained at a very low level of less than three per cent in 2013.” (Source: Spiegel online, 19.01.2014, 14:23)

What does this mean in practice?

As the above figures demonstrate, active career planning and counselling makes sense in order to ensure an appropriate remuneration package. It helps also to achieve the career goals of academics in the long term.

Unfortunately, too few people still take advantage of the opportunities to get help from experienced managers, business angels or freelance consultants. Furthermore, many academics refrain from pro-active training or from attending trade fairs. This is due to their “busy” working day. With the result that further qualifications do not take place. This means that people’s knowledge is also not kept up to date. We often see that such people find it difficult to get into a new job on their own after leaving a company. In addition, there is the factor of “applying and presenting”. Many people do not take up the many offers, for example, to optimise their application documents. The situation is similar with people just starting out in their careers.

As a result, people’s potential is not raised. Therefore, they sell themselves short. For example, we find that many “technicians” have very good technical knowledge. However, unfortunately one or the other lack the ability to market themselves. “Without an appropriate briefing before a job interview, we unfortunately too often see people talking themselves out of their skulls in the interview,” says Mr. Wanner.

It is also interesting – according to Mr. Wanner – that it is customary for professionals and managers to consult a doctor about health issues. However, when it comes to one’s own career and the associated opportunities and risks, many people shy away from seeking advice and help from personnel consultants. Wanner’s concept aims to change this!