/ Very low pay or a good starter job?

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Richard White on 18 Jul 2014
There is a job posted in the Premier Posts here http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?n=592672

I have to commit on this and, in my opinion, the very low pay that is being offered.

13,500/annum for a 30 hour week amounts to 8.65 per hour for someone who is expected to teach climbing and be responsible for checking and maintenance of equipment, presumably climbing equipment.

All the arguments about a foot on the ladder, training on the job etc. are understandable but is this really acceptable pay for a job with such a high level of responsibility.

I know that work in the Outdoor Industry does not pay highly, compared to other professions requiring similar levels of training, experience, responsibility and maturity, and it is about a life style etc. Holding the MIA and having worked as a freelancer for a number of years I do get that. But is this a bit low pay for what is expected?

If we don't comment and discuss these issues, then employers will continue to think that such pay in the Outdoor Industry is acceptable. Ooh, I sound like a 1970's style shop steward! "We'll keep the red flags......"

Cheers,

Rich.
JoshOvki on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Richard White:

Seems more than lots of climbing walls pay for the same amount of work. 30 hour week sounds nice mind. I do think it is low for the amount of responsibility but that is the free market for you.
rj_townsend on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Richard White:

If you don't like the pay, don't apply for the job.

No applicants = employer reassesing the salary or discontinuing the role.
Richard White on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to rj_townsend:

Clearly I am not going to apply for this job. Unless this is a cunning plan to put off other potential applicants :).

It's too easy to just say don't apply. Do you think this is suitable pay for the work? What is you opinion?
snoop6060 - on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Richard White:
Teaching climbing and checking equipment doesn't exactly require a massive degree of skill to be fair.

8.75 / hr is probably close to what you get in similarly skilled roles.
Post edited at 16:16
Fraser on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to rj_townsend & op:

Agreed. You've got to figure out how long it takes to become suitably skilled and gauge that against other careers or positions. Ok it's a bit of a Dutch auction in some respects, but that's the free market for you!

wbo - on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Richard White: i would bear in mind it's not the outdoor industry per se, but a sports centre job, so your peer group includes swimming instructors, football pitch managers and so on.

Richard White on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to snoop6060:

> Teaching climbing and checking equipment doesn't exactly require a massive degree of skill to be fair.

Organisations such as the BMG, AMI, UIAGM, AALA and the Health and Safety Exec may disagree with you.

Of course, it depends on the level of the individual within the industry and everyone has to start somewhere.

What would you describe as "similarly skilled roles"?
Post edited at 16:27
Neil Williams - on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to rj_townsend:
This. Wages on jobs like this are low because (a) they are quite fun and (b) plenty of people want to do them and have the skills to.

A more general point might be "some wages are too low, so the minimum wage should increase". That's a valid point, but look at how expensive anything[1] involving a person is in somewhere like Switzerland (a high-wage country, though interestingly it's cultural, there is no minimum wage per-se) and you might not think the same way.

[1] Thirty quid for a short back and sides at a basic barber's, anyone?

Neil
Post edited at 16:29
rj_townsend on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Richard White:
> (In reply to rj_townsend)
>
> Clearly I am not going to apply for this job. Unless this is a cunning plan to put off other potential applicants :).
>
Ah, sorry - in the original post you mentioned having to commit, so I assumed you were applying.

> It's too easy to just say don't apply. Do you think this is suitable pay for the work? What is you opinion?

Yes, I do feel that the salary being offered matches the role described. It is a part-time role, and the duties described seem to align with the salary. What salary are you considering to be appropriate?
Richard White on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Neil Williams:

> This. Wages on jobs like this are low because (a) they are quite fun and (b) plenty of people want to do them and have the skills to.

Absolutely agree that they are fun jobs, but they are also serious jobs with the responsibility for the safety of novices and youngsters.

I doubt that many people have the skills to properly check climbing and safety equipment and make a sound judgement as to whether it is safe or not.

Rich.
The New NickB - on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Richard White:

It is about what I would expect.

FTE is about 17k so probably Grade 3 in the LA pay scales, a step up from the basic fitness attendant type roles you get in a sports centre.

The minimum criteria on qualifications is basically SPA and a first aid certificate, so not a particularly high level.

There is an argument that it should be higher, but it is almost certainly the going rate.
Neil Williams - on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Richard White:

"Absolutely agree that they are fun jobs, but they are also serious jobs with the responsibility for the safety of novices and youngsters."

And I do it for nowt (I'm an instructor at a Scout wall). Doesn't mean I take it any less seriously.

"I doubt that many people have the skills to properly check climbing and safety equipment and make a sound judgement as to whether it is safe or not."

It depends what you mean. Checking for visible damage, ensuring the equipment is not used anywhere where it could come into contact with agents causing invisible damage e.g. acids, and replacing it according to the manufacturer's recommended schedule, is what almost every wall will *actually* do, and none of it is particularly hard. Every climber does something broadly similar on their own gear, and you don't hear of failures due to deterioration particularly often (and where I have, they've often involved people deliberately ignoring the age of a piece of gear).

Neil
Richard White on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to rj_townsend:

Oops, a spelling mistake. I meant to say comment.

The fact that it is part-time is a fair point but I still feel it is low considering the duties required.

It is interesting that some people have commented that the duties are not high skilled. That is not the opinion of organisations responsible for regulating the Outdoor Industry who feel that many years training and experience is required for such duties as checking and maintaining climbing equipment.

Roberttaylor - on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Neil Williams:

> This. Wages on jobs like this are low because (a) they are quite fun and (b) plenty of people want to do them and have the skills to.

This. Supply outstrips demand, price falls.

> [1] Thirty quid for a short back and sides at a basic barber's, anyone?

Where is this, so I can never move there. In Edinburgh I've never paid more than 7 for a haircut, in Glasgow I've never paid more than 6. I've cut my own hair a few times when at sea and have always made such an awful mess that I won't be trying it again.

I get that people are put off by low starting wages (in what is, really, a starting position) but before embarking on a course of training people should have a look at what the likely outcome is in terms of future employability. The burned hand teaches best...I used to study biology and see people who were my classmates volunteering for years (those happy few with the resources to do so) before getting their first professional job. Those who don't have financial backing often end up volunteering while working in unskilled positions, an unhappy and demoralising situation. There are a lot of intelligent people going to waste at the moment, a hidden cost of the recession.

I commend the advertiser for putting the salary on the advert; they are being upfront and honest, something that so many 'salary on application' and 'competitive' adverts are just not.

R
Neil Williams - on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Richard White:

Such as what? MIA? Excessive. It'd be sufficient to be trained by an MIA in a simplified operating procedure.

(Not to mention that only a tiny subset of MIA skills are required to run an artificial wall safely).

Neil
Neil Williams - on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Roberttaylor:

"Where is this, so I can never move there."

Switzerland. Not just haircuts are expensive - wages are high so everything is expensive. Basically, there are no jobs that aren't professional, in a way. This does have its upsides but also its downsides.

"In Edinburgh I've never paid more than 7 for a haircut, in Glasgow I've never paid more than 6."

8 at my local place but then I'm darn Sarf. But it doesn't compare to the Swiss rate :)

"I commend the advertiser for putting the salary on the advert; they are being upfront and honest, something that so many 'salary on application' and 'competitive' adverts are just not."

Agreed.

Neil
The New NickB - on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Neil Williams:

> This. Wages on jobs like this are low because (a) they are quite fun and (b) plenty of people want to do them and have the skills to.

Actually this appears to be a Local Authority job, so will have been through a job evaluation and will be much less subject to market forces. It may well pay better than the private sector equivalent, if such a job exists.

Lower paid jobs are often slightly better paid in the public sector and more senior posts worse paid.
Fraser on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Richard White:

> It is interesting that some people have commented that the duties are not high skilled. That is not the opinion of organisations responsible for regulating the Outdoor Industry who feel that many years training and experience is required for such duties as checking and maintaining climbing equipment.

Well I for one would disagree with that last part. How hard is it, really?

Richard White on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Neil Williams:

> Such as what? MIA? Excessive. It'd be sufficient to be trained by an MIA in a simplified operating procedure.

> (Not to mention that only a tiny subset of MIA skills are required to run an artificial wall safely).

Very true about MIA being excessive for such a role. However, an individual wanting to do this job properly, i.e. teach / coach climbing properly and be able to assess equipment properly would need a number of years as an active, albeit hobby / weekend, climber in order to have the necessary skills and experience.

Neil Williams - on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Richard White:
Yes, I'd agree. I don't think it detracts from my point, which is that there are plenty of active climbers out there who are more than happy to take that kind of job at that kind of pay, because it allows their hobby to be their job as well. Otherwise they'd get no-one and would have to pay more.

(I can't imagine many hobby accountants!)

Neil
Post edited at 16:53
Pyreneenemec - on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Richard White:

Every job, however menial SHOULD pay a living wage. I wouldn't classify this opportunity as menial and the pay offered certainly isn't a living wage.

Solutions ? Unfortunately I can't offer any. Job market, supply and demand and all the usual reasons mean than some poor sod will take this position and even though it might be fun ( for a while) it will be because they can't find better.

Not all is gloom and doom ! We live in a meritocracy where the filthy rich will continue to get even richer and more and more will join the ranks of the poor.

snoop6060 - on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Richard White:
> What would you describe as "similarly skilled roles"?

Scout leader? Hair dresser?

How much training does it actually take to teach climbing in a climbing center? 2 days?, 5 days? Either way, not a lot. Nothing compared to skilled roles.

It probably takes considerably more to become a hairdresser actually.
Post edited at 17:02
Pyreneenemec - on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to snoop6060:

>

> It probably takes considerably more to become a hairdresser actually.


I don't think you'd be happy with the result if your hairdresser was let loose with the scissors after 5 days training ;-)
Richard White on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Neil Williams:

> (I can't imagine many hobby accountants!)

You never know. :)

I know, at the end of the day, that an industry will pay what it feels is realistic in terms of it's own income and the level of staff it requires.

My main concern is that youngsters wanting to get into the Outdoor Industry, after gaining their own experience and skills, are given a decent wage.
Turdus torquatus on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Pyreneenemec:

> Every job, however menial SHOULD pay a living wage. I wouldn't classify this opportunity as menial and the pay offered certainly isn't a living wage.

The OP states 8.65 an hour is being offered whereas the living wage is set at 7.65 outside London.
edunn on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Richard White:

That is not the opinion of organisations responsible for regulating the Outdoor Industry who feel that many years training and experience is required for such duties as checking and maintaining climbing equipment.

But not as much as doctors or lawyers or accountants who pay more to get their qualifications, who are more highly skilled, and therefore charge more for their services.

13K is a very low wage (in my opinion) and it would be nice if you could earn more as an outdoor instructor, but I actually think the low wages are a good thing (across the industry) as it means only the really passionate look for work in it and therefore maintain the ethos that the outdoors is to be enjoyed.

(yes I know we are talking about an indoor climbing wall but you get the picture).
Richard White on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to edunn:

Of course, there has to be some scale depending on factors such as the length and the cost of training and the actual importance in society for individuals with those skills.

I work full-time in the aerospace industry as a systems engineer and have been through training and assessment for both that and the MIA qualification. Both required years of hard work, training and studying to be really competent.

Perhaps working in a climbing wall does not require the same level of experience or skill. It depends on what the role is in the climbing wall. The job this thread regards, does state teaching and equipment maintenance and I think that doing both of those, at a competent high level, deserves a higher wage than is being offered.
itsThere on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Richard White:

It should be 13k plus extra for teaching or min 30 hours plus two hourly rates for teaching and other stuff
The New NickB - on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Richard White:

If you look at the job description, it talks about Senior Climbing Coaches and Climbing Centre Manager. This suggests to me that this is a fairly junior member of staff, working within quite a bit of supervision.

I think there is a general low pay issue, but I suspect that this job is in line with leisure industry pay.
IainWhitehouse - on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Richard White:

Perhaps, in a capitalist society it has less to do with skill levels than with what society is prepared to pay. Climbing walls, and other climbing businesses typically do not have the revenue to pay large salaries.

I am sure ours isn't the only industry sector for which this holds true: "the arts" are not usually a road to riches (are they?). I was about to suggest academia was also poorly paid but it seems PhD funding has pretty much doubled since I did mine so I may be ou of date......

13k actually sounds above average to me for some aspects of the job described (for this industry, that is)
Nicholas Livesey on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Richard White:

Nearly 9 per hour for doing something you enjoy? Not bad at all.

A fair bit of experience working in god forsaken shitholes for a lot less has maybe coloured my perception somewhat!
Blue Straggler - on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Richard White:

>

> 13,500/annum for a 30 hour week amounts to 8.65 per hour for someone who is expected to teach climbing and be responsible for checking and maintenance of equipment, presumably climbing equipment.

I think Aldi offers between 7.50 and 9 per hour.

I overheard a conversation between some young lifeguards at my local swimming pool the other day, I think they were talking about being on between 9k and 12k. And their conversation was not a gripe about salary either.

I know people who work in places like Card Factory (a cheap version of Clinton's Cards) and get 7k per year.

I think the salary you are going on about looks about right. I believe youngsters starting this kind of work at a wall local to me get less than that (around 6.50 per hour) and they seem happy enough with that!
I think you are overegging the whole "training, experience, responsibility and maturity" side of this.
Ridge - on 19 Jul 2014
In reply to The New NickB:

> If you look at the job description, it talks about Senior Climbing Coaches and Climbing Centre Manager. This suggests to me that this is a fairly junior member of staff, working within quite a bit of supervision.

> I think there is a general low pay issue, but I suspect that this job is in line with leisure industry pay.

At 16k for a 37hr week I don't think that's a bad salary compared to other jobs requiring similar levels of experience. Whilst agreeing there is a problem with low wages, and particular living wages, in this country, I do think the OP is exaggerating the level of experience, skill and training required for this post.
Duncan Bourne - on 19 Jul 2014
In reply to Richard White:
It is a low wage but as others have said you have to look at the factors that make it a low wage and these are primarily based on supply and demand. I am very much against exploitation where people are not paid their fair due where there is the capacity to do so. The question is does the outdoor industry have the capacity to pay higher wages? If you are running a business and only have a small turn over then you are not going to be able to pay a lot.
Factors in pay for me would be: how difficult would it be to employ some one to do the job and what level of quality of skill/ responsibility is required. I really do not go with the "it's low pay because it is fun" argument. If that were the case Jonathan Ross would be on minimum wage. I work as an artist and I sometimes get people who expect something for very little "because art is fun" they don't get it because I charge what I consider a reasonable amount for my work and other people are willing to pay that.
In fact one of my firm beliefs is that art schools fall down by NOT teaching students how to run a business. You can be as talented as you like but if you don't understand the value of what you do then you might as well go litter picking

Duncan Bourne - on 19 Jul 2014
In reply to Nicholas Livesey:

> Nearly 9 per hour for doing something you enjoy? Not bad at all.

See that is the enjoyment argument again. I get roughly 39 per hour for something I love doing. It's not what you do it's who you do it for
neilh - on 19 Jul 2014
In reply to Duncan Bourne:

I understand that in Australia they teach business skills across all disciplines. Your comments are spot on. As a business owner I come across too many who do not understand the value of what they do and are scared of charging the right price. It's pathetic.
Fraser on 19 Jul 2014
In reply to neilh:

I can understand your concern and perspective but it's one thing to charge what you believe you're worth, it's another thing entirely to convince others to pay it. From my experience, the actual fee paid for the service/product is usually somewhere between the two.
Blue Straggler - on 19 Jul 2014
In reply to Richard White:

Related to this discussion - how much do you pay for entry to the climbing wall?

Let's make the quite reasonable assumption that all wall staff are "underpaid" by the same percentage that you think this hypothetical Climbing Duty Officer is. And you think they should all have a raise of x%.

Would you be happy paying your usual entry fee plus (x + y)% where y is another extra passed on to you to ensure an even mark-up proportion (in the same way that if I sell a 5 product to a customer at 10, then my supplier increases the price to me to 7.50, I don't simply add the 2.50 to my end price but probably make it 14-15)?
Webster - on 19 Jul 2014
In reply to Richard White:

its hardly a high skilled job, almost any climber with a year or so of experience could practically undertake it, and it sounds like the only qualification needed would be a CWA (with first aid of some kind?). a CWA takes about 2 days and im sure every climber would pass it. first aid would probably only require a 1 day work place type qualification as its not a wilderness situation. so 3-4 days to get qualified is hardly a difficult requirement.

as for responsibility it sounds like you would spend most of your time sitting round twiddling your thumbs so very little actual responsibility. I get what you mean in the sense that you are "responsible" for peoples lives, but in reality its really not that hard to make sure people are tied in correctly etc, we could all do it in an instant. a lollypop lady is technically responsible for peoples lives but I don't think anybody would claim their job is in any way difficult.

personally I would expect the listed job to be a minimum wage job, as it is effectively an unskilled job so the wage is pretty good in my opinion.
ads.ukclimbing.com
kfv - on 19 Jul 2014
In reply to Richard White:

I actually think this is quite a good wage for the job. It comes down to how much people are willing to pay.

Say the instructor has a group of 6 at 5pp per hour = 30 take off VAT = 25 take off pay (not including employers tax) = 16.25 to cover all of the centres costs and profits and that's assuming that the instructor has a group every minute they are in work.

Incidentally 8.65 is roughly what a new teacher gets per hour (for the hours they actually work/ the years salary) which takes 4/5 years of expensive university to earn.
muppetfilter - on 19 Jul 2014
In reply to kfv:
How VAT can work for the person charging it, you can charge 20% Vat and then only pay on to HMRC on a flat rate sceme between 8-14% depending on what your business is.

5 per hour for a session in a climbing wall is very low.. more like 10-25ph. So more like 60-150ph.

The thing about new teachers is it is a lot harder for them to Kill people should they be negligent in their Job. The legal responsibilities of this Job far outstrip the insultingly low rates of pay. To give you an Idea, I used to get paid 7.50 in the late 1990's working at a climbing wall with an SPSA.
Post edited at 15:32
Duncan Bourne - on 19 Jul 2014
In reply to Fraser:

It is not about charging what you believe you are worth but understanding your market. Convincing others to pay your worth is part and parcel of good business. In fact often charging too little can be counter productive in my experience people don't take you seriously and the most awkward clients are often those who want something for nothing.
Clients seem to fall into the following catagories:
cheap and cheerful - they want to pay as little as absolutely possible this is analogous to buying cheap shoes on a market which seem like a bargain but fall apart after two months
quality seekers - they know what they want and expect to pay for it. Like buying quality or bespoke shoes which are just great to wear.
Famous names - they employ you because they have heard of you but more importantly because other people will have heard of you and that in itself is the main angle, see Jimmy choos. If you are famous your marketability goes up tenfold
Gwilymstarks on 19 Jul 2014
In reply to Richard White:

This job is effectively a duty manager in a sports centre job with a bit of coaching on the side. There is an overall manager above, so not a mass of responsibility or accountability. It would appear to be the first rung on a management ladder. In fact, it is a duty office, not even using the word manager in the job spec.

Is the pay too low - debatable

Is is on par with the leisure industry going rate - yes

Would I do the job - no way
Blue Straggler - on 19 Jul 2014
In reply to Gwilymstarks:

> not a mass of responsibility or accountability.

Yep. I was quietly waiting for someone else to point this out.
If there is an incident and litigation, it's not the person on 13,500 pro rata per annum that gets sued.
muppetfilter - on 19 Jul 2014
In reply to Blue Straggler:


> If there is an incident and litigation, it's not the person on 13,500 pro rata per annum that gets sued.

They could be charged with Gross Negligence and Manslaughter and could face a custodial sentence in the worst case scenario....
andy - on 19 Jul 2014
In reply to muppetfilter:

> They could be charged with Gross Negligence and Manslaughter and could face a custodial sentence in the worst case scenario....

But couldn't you be charged with the same driving a car?
sjminfife - on 19 Jul 2014
In reply to Neil Williams:

"30 for a haircut"
Yep it drove me to buying a set of clippers and a training video for the wife ;-).
On the whole though I thought prices were Ok in Switzerland.
neilh - on 19 Jul 2014
In reply to Fraser:

I did balance my point by talking about value.Value is a two way process.
Blue Straggler - on 19 Jul 2014
In reply to muppetfilter:

> They could be charged with Gross Negligence and Manslaughter and could face a custodial sentence in the worst case scenario....

OK I am happy to be corrected - you post with more confidence than I. I made an assumption that it would be the Sports Centre, and not the individual staff member, that got in trouble, as they would have checked and signed off on his/her credentials. I understand that it can be more convoluted than this though.
Duncan Bourne - on 20 Jul 2014
In reply to Blue Straggler:

In my experience the management will sacrifice the individual to avoid any legal comebacks. If you look at any incident it is always pinned on "operator error". The centre would check credentials/train staff and show that they had complied with the law, this effectively lets them off the hook unless it could be shown that they had specifically given the operator instruction to do something which resulted in an accident
In reply to Richard White:

13K for a 30 hour week isn't much?!!? 30 hours a week is a part time job, of course it doesn't pay a full time salary. What do you expect a part time job to pay?!
The New NickB - on 21 Jul 2014
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

> 13K for a 30 hour week isn't much?!!? 30 hours a week is a part time job, of course it doesn't pay a full time salary. What do you expect a part time job to pay?!

What has the fact that it is part time got to do with it? The FTE is around 17k, which the OP doesn't think is very much for the responsibility.
Jamie B - on 21 Jul 2014
In reply to Richard White:

It seems pretty much commensurate with other similar-level jobs in the sector, some do pay a bit more but others less. There are plenty of full-time, qualified climbing wall employees on Minimum Wage.

To be honest, your MIA doesn't really give you a great deal of extra value for this sort of position, unless they are specifically wanting to develop an outside operation or use you to conduct in-house training.

The good news is that if you play it right, it provides the opportunity to develop and excel as a movement coach, which is an area that many MIAs are less strong in, and which lends itself naturally to the indoor environment. You can also gain very bankable skills in route-setting (a good freelance setter will earn approx 150 per day), and of course may give you the all-around skills to move into wall management (where the MIA *will* come in handy).

In reply to The New NickB:

Not sure what he seems to compare it to in terms of responsibility, there are plenty of jobs with more responsibility that pay around 17K FTE.
The New NickB - on 21 Jul 2014
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

> Not sure what he seems to compare it to in terms of responsibility, there are plenty of jobs with more responsibility that pay around 17K FTE.

You can argue with the OP about that.

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