In a country where the majority of people are earning less than $50,000 per year, a contract professional who has a degree or higher will be earning over $100,000.
In fact, that figure is more than double the median annual salary of a contract worker.
In fact, the median salary for a contract consultant is more in line with a high-ranking executive of a large corporation than that of an entry-level worker in a local shop.
It’s a phenomenon that is becoming increasingly common in Australia.
Contract workers in Australia have a median annual wage of $94,400 and have an average annual salary increase of 12 per cent.
In South Africa, contract consultants are earning between $87,500 and $100 for the same work.
But the pay gap is growing.
The median annual pay for a job in the retail industry in Australia has been increasing by just 1 per cent a year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
It is also up by more than 15 per cent in the past three years.
The gap is widening, with contract specialists earning on average $117,600 more than entry- level workers in a shop, according the BIS.
And the gap between contract specialists and those with a degree has grown from 2.7 per cent to 2.9 per cent, according ABS data.
Contract specialists are increasingly working in large retail chains.
The trend is not new.
In 2011, the Federal Government’s Fair Work Commission made the following recommendations to improve the pay and conditions of contract workers:Make it clear that employment conditions and compensation are set at the employee’s discretion and are independent of the employer’s.
Restrict the ability of the contract worker to choose where and when they will work.
Ensure the terms and conditions that they agree to are consistent with their employer’s expectations.
Restore contractual rights and responsibilities in relation to the work they do, such as the right to refuse work, or the right not to be penalised for refusing work.
Work at a location where they have an expectation of safety, working conditions, working hours, work environment and the like.
In some cases, these contractual rights will be in place.
But in other cases, contracts will not be.
Contract specialists work at the margins, earning less and not being given the opportunities to choose a place of employment.
That’s because they are paid less than entry level workers and in some cases not given a choice.
The wage gapThe average hourly pay for contract specialists is $90.40.
In a survey by the Association of Australian Contractors, 47 per cent of contract specialists were paid less, compared to only 26 per cent who were paid more.
In 2015-16, there were an estimated 2,600 contract specialist vacancies in Australia, which is around one in five.
There is a growing perception that the lack of competition for jobs with similar qualifications, as well as low pay, are contributing to the pay difference.
In 2017-18, the ABS reported that employment opportunities for contract workers were not expanding as much as previously thought, with more contracts than previously anticipated being created.
The Bureau of Industry and Energy (BIE) commissioned a report that examined the extent of the wage gap in retail in Australia and suggested a number of solutions.
In the first stage, it looked at the number of jobs that would be available if the supply of contract labour was improved.
In its report, the BIE suggested a range of solutions to the gap, including improving pay rates and introducing compulsory overtime rules.
In 2018, the Government announced a range, including a scheme for new apprenticeships to help attract new talent to the industry, as part of a broader scheme to increase the number and quality of jobs available.
But some argue that the current system is not working and it needs to be overhauled.