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20% pay hike is a drop in the ocean

Letters

A letter published in NCE a few years ago claimed that: 'If we are to lift engineering out of the doldrums then salaries must increase'. The writer suggested that if the salaries of all engineers were significantly increased at a stroke, the cost to the nation would be minimal.

If all salaries were hiked overnight by 20%, the average salary for new graduates would increase from £15,000 to £18,000 (the President's suggested minimum).

Likewise, if the average salary of all 50,000 members is £35,000, then the cost to the UK of a 20% hike would be £350M.

This is a mere drop in the ocean (0.03%) when compared to the £12bn annual turnover of the civil engineering sector of the UK.

The clients would not even realise that it had happened.

However, there would be a number of benefits to our profession:

In the short term, the quality of intake to civil engineering courses would improve.

In the longer term, the quality of work done by more able graduates would improve, leading to better client satisfaction.

The status of civil engineers would be enhanced.

I am sure there are other benefits, and, undoubtedly, there will be negative consequences, eg increase in cost of overseas work (although not in the long term, with increased productivity).

Perhaps 20% is not the appropriate figure but even if we aimed higher at 40% the impact on the industry would be a mere 0.06%. Perhaps someone can explain if there is a basic flaw in the above argument.

Adrian E Long, vice president, ICE, a.long@qub.ac.uk

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