Going up? They are at the House of Commons...


Like a lot of people in the creative industries, I feel underpaid. Unless you are fairly senior or have built an impressive range of clients for your freelance portfolio, I would almost bet that most of you think you're worth more than you currently earn. On the flip side, I know of GPs who are actually embarrassed by how much they make. And in that other world which we hatefully refer to as banking, one person I know was disappointed by a measly 30k bonus. The reality is that the creative industries do not, broadly speaking, reward us creative types terribly well.

Part of the problem is that certain companies know that people are falling over backwards to try and get their foot in the door. So for instance, a sub-£20,000 salary is pretty common at the BBC - the Mecca of those wanting to make their way in the broadcasting industry. An intern for a major record label like Universal would be expected to be jolly well grateful for 14k. In fact, many would be quite happy not to be paid at all, content with the honour of getting their foot in the door of such a prestigious place of work, with the promise of reaching 20k after a couple of years. This is, by the way, after filling in a colossal application form which might take all day and then an interview in front of four people.

One night, I hopped onto the tube and picked up one of the discarded copies of Metro which was left on the seat next to me. I never pay any attention to the jobs page in the Metro, but this one caught my eye. It was a pretty big ad, by usual standards; took up about a quarter of a page:

House of Commons - Department of Facilities (oooh, sounds important. There's the royal portcullis emblem and everything. Now, let's see what the job is...)

Lift Attendant.

And the salary? £17,277 + excellent benefits.

I can hear interns up and down the country who slog their guts out on a daily basis wailing in disbelief. But hang on, let's not get ahead of ourselves; surely there's more to it than that. Let's read on:

"Experience of operating a passenger lift in a working environment." No, nothing too taxing so far. Ah, here we are, maybe this is the challenge coming up:

"Experience of working in a large building operating a passenger lift." Aha, so it's not enough to have experience of operating a passenger lift in a working environment; it has to have been a LARGE building. Well, yes, I mean, come on. Any fool can operate a lift over three floors. But four or more? That takes real skill, imagination and years of training.

"To be smart and articulate." Smart - yes, I can see that. Articulate? I can't quite see Gordon Brown asking a lift attendant for his views on tax credits or, indeed, any aspect of the recent Prime Ministerial Debates. "Which floor, sir?" would, in my estimation, be the most crucial three words needed for such a role.

Is there a catch? Ah, I know - the benefits must be non-existent! Dream on...

"28 days annual leave, increasing to FORTY with continuous service (presumably one is allowed time off occasionally to go for a wee), interest-free season ticket loan, child care voucher scheme, discounted membership of the in-house gym and wide variety of catering outlets."

So all in all, a pretty cushy little number. Look, I'm not putting down lift attendants. Somebody needs to do it and good luck to the person who gets the job. But I reckon I could ask any one of the roughly 63,000 members of Creativepool what their salary is and what they have to do for it, and a large proportion would, by comparison, be working themselves into an early grave for less money than is given to someone to press a button on a wall every few minutes. Going down, anybody...?

by Ashley Morrison

Ashley is a blogger, copywriter and editor. (He is also looking for a job earning considerably more than £17,277 but fully expects to have to do a bit of work in return. Email me...)


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