PERTH office workers in the resources sector are paid on average between $2,000 and $19,000 more than colleagues in other industries, according to a recent survey by Drake Salary.
The survey, held in June this year, asked 173 medium (five to 10 employees) to large Perth organisations (more than 300 staff) what they paid their office staff and compared these figures with rates 12 months earlier.
On average, the highest paid position was that of call centre manager, with an average salary of $59,849. However some companies in the resource sector paid staff in certain administration positions up to $66,000.
The greatest increase in pay levels across the board went to customer service supervisors and senior accounts staff, whose salaries increased by as much as 13.5 per cent and 12 per cent respectively from June 2002 to June 2003.
Drake (WA) spokesperson Diane Dale said resource industry workers topped the list because the industry was backed by multi-million dollar projects.
Office managers earn on average $46,264 across most industry sectors, while the resources sector rewards its managers with as much as $65,732.
However, their higher pay rates come with added responsibilities, with experienced office staff under constant pressure and often working long hours.
Chamber of Minerals and Energy director Reg Howard-Smith said although the level of salaries was a positive indicator of the state of the resources industry, it was not surprising.
Mr Howard-Smith reiterated Ms Dale’s comments about the industry being backed by multi-million dollar projects, however he said with more recent strong performances across most commodities, the wealth would be spread further right throughout the resource industry, including lesser-realised metals such as tantalum.
Mr Howard-Smith said that, while the salary survey painted a relatively accurate picture of resources administration, particularly in Perth, there was a concern with staff shortages in the trade, engineering and geology fields.
“It is definitely positive in one sense but in the other sense it is concerning with some of the shortages looming,” he said.
Ms Dale said the maturation of the call centre industry had enabled the role of the call centre manager to be more clearly defined, therefore driving the strong salaries.
Australian Teleservices Association chief executive officer Michael Meredith said the maturation of the call centre industry had come about in the past three to four years, resulting in better wages for the industry overall.
Mr Meredith disputed the salary figures, saying he had seen another survey that put wages for call centre mangers between $69,000 and $82,000.
He said the maturation of call centres had followed businesses’ realisation of the importance and value of specialised staff trained in customer relations.
“Admittedly call centres started as cost reduction but now they are adding value to an organisation,” Mr Meredith said.
“Senior management has come to the realisation that they actually have a valuable business tool.
“I think the centre mangers of today will become the CEOs of tomorrow because they are learning such strong business skills.”
In other sectors, an added workload and a small candidate pool was putting upward pressure on pay rates for senior accounts staff and customer service supervisors.
Ms Dale said that, because the customer service supervisor candidate pool was small, staff were generally in existing employment and need added incentive to move.
“We’re also seeing the skill expectations of customer service supervisors changing,” she told WA Business News.
“Supervision is no longer enough; they’re also expected to provide coaching, training, technical skills and performance management.
“With senior accounts staff the introduction of GST and the need to meet Taxation Department requirements, many more skills and a greater level of responsibility is expected of the role.”
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