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Young Aussie worker outraged over $50k job offer: ‘Not even enough to pay back HECS’

This young jobseeker said roles demanding 'experience and education' should pay accordingly.

A young Australian worker offered $50,000 for a new job she studied years to qualify for is considering a return to retail to land a “liveable” wage, as an expert claims a university education isn't as worth as much as it was 20 or 30 years ago.

The marketing coordinator role required two years' experience and a university degree but pays less than the $60,000 Maddy Basham was earning as a retail manager, and equal to her takings five years ago while working for Boost Juice, before she took on a substantial HECs debt.

“Sick and tired of seeing the same job ads over and over again asking for an educated, experienced marketer and paying them f**king nothing,” the Brisbane jobseeker said.

Worker Maddy said she'd not be able to live off a $50,000 wage after an infuriating job offer.
Worker Maddy said she'd not be able to live off a $50,000 wage after an infuriating job offer. (Instagram)

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If she was working 40 hours a week, she’d be earning $24.04 an hour, which is just slightly above the minimum wage for Australian workers.


“[That's] for a job requiring a whole-ass degree and two years in job experience that … isn't even enough to pay back the HECS debt that I took out to go get that degree," she said.


"At this point, I am this close to going back to retail just to make a liveable wage."

Maddy would have to be earning more than $51,550 to pay back her HECS, meaning the debt would remain and would continue to be indexed while she did not.

The median Australian wage is $54,890, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data. That’s calculated by looking at the middle value of all incomes, not the mean average, which can be skewed by higher earners.

As costs continue to rise, a recent Finder study found that the average Australian felt like they needed to earn more than $345,000 to be considered doing well financially.

For Gen-Zs, like Maddy, who are facing a lot of uncertainty in the current economic climate, that figure is slightly higher at $392,077. She said she'd be happy with $70,000, but struggled to find roles in that realm.

Not all Baby Boomers feel the same financial stability, but decades longer in the workplace and different routes into housing mean they are often in a contrasting financial situation and feel they need to earn the lowest amount to be wealthy, at $273,812.

Recruitment expert Graham Wynn told Yahoo Finance said employers are far more concerned with an applicant's experience than their qualifications now.

"Geez, you want to walk in at $70,000, what planet do these people live on? $50,000 that's entry level," he said.

"There are far more people getting qualifications now and consequently it doesn't have the same value as it had 20 or 30 years ago. That's why they don't get the same kind of money. They think, 'well it's easy to get that these days lets see what you can do first' before offering higher wages."

Jobseekers' 'time wasted' by common tactic

Sam McNamara, CEO of GetAhead - a dating-app-style employment app - said he’d found young workers were often frustrated with the job-seeking experience when pay was not disclosed up front.

“One of the biggest time-wasting periods of job hunting was that people were being asked to go to two or three interviews without actually knowing what was on offer and then, at the last second, the offer was something completely not what they were looking for,” he told Yahoo Finance.

“That wastes both the employer and the job seeker's time.”

McNamara said employers should be “upfront and transparent” about the pay they were offering to streamline the process.

Wynn, from Superior People Recruitment, said people needed to consider that wages could vary across different companies in the same industry, depending on how large it was.

There can be more opportunity for growth in smaller companies, which may not be able to offer as high a salary. But he also warned young workers that experience mattered.

“Salary really comes from your performance and experience. But if you’re not happy, you can jump on Seek and have a look at the salary ranges,” he told Yahoo Finance.

“Let's say, for example, you’re a receptionist, looking for a job between $60,000 and $70,000. If you search for those jobs and nothing comes up, you’re in the wrong salary range.”

Australia has moved from the ‘great resignation’, where the tight labour market gave workers more options to shift jobs. Now, with the Reserve Bank cracking down on inflation, unemployment is on the rise, and some are forecasting a peak could “see a further 125,000 to 150,000 added to the ranks of the unemployed” in the very near future.

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