Today’s workforce: Justified salary expectations?

university, college degree, salary expectations, gen z, hr, human resources, business, blue-collar, management

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”
― Alexander Pope

We’ve been seeing some big changes in financial expectations of the labor market across all levels of education and all sectors/industries in the last couple of years, and not in the good way. With emergence of the newer generations, high inflation, anomalies like the pandemic, wars and overall scarcity increase in labor, it’s no wonder the expectations rose to higher levels than ever before. The question here is if that expectation is backed up by its true value; in other words, are employers getting their money’s worth. The answer isn’t so simple to digest as there are many factors here at play which influence one’s worth but then again another question pops up whether that worth has the perceived value. We will try and discuss several of those factors and how they impact the overall expectation which usually doesn’t coincide with reality. This will also probably drive us to the point which tells us how employers also often need to bargain or manipulate the offer to accommodate those expectations. Let’s dive in.

university, college degree, salary expectations, gen z, hr, human resources, business, blue-collar, management
To be or not to be

University degree relevance vs. Perceived value

There’s always the notion of someone having a university degree immediately meaning they’re some sort of experts in the field. While this may be true for some trades, it’s usually not like that for the majority of them. The reason for that is quite simple if we look at it from the business perspective. A university degree gives you insight into a theoretical space of some trade which often doesn’t even scratch the surface of the practice or in more than once case, it’s completely different than what is taught in classes. An experience in the field will always top academia or its theory and this is where we come to the point of saying that that degree doesn’t really matter much without practical knowledge. I often say in these articles that everything in life is sales, and oh my, is that the truth in this case. Most of the universities have a much higher perceived value than they actually offer later in life once you finish and the most basic sales pitch of it is that you represent a higher specimen in intellectual sphere but that really isn’t true; not with all the knowledge available today on the internet and not with the intended way of that degree’s availability. The jacked up prices and ridiculous marketing of those universities are off the charts and as any indoctrination goes around, this is no different. If you can just pay the money and incidentally decrease the difficulty of finishing a university because you, at the end of the day, paid for it, its value drops to very low levels. Throw in the inflation of the interest for the universities, with decreased interest for blue-collar trades (and immediate increased value which we will touch base), and you have students who graduated but aren’t really effective enough to justify those salary expectations.

university, college degree, salary expectations, gen z, hr, human resources, business, blue-collar, management

Blue-collar relevance vs. Perceived value

As mentioned above, the interest for universities soared to high levels, bringing its scarcity to the ground and incidentally its value with effect. On the other hand, the blue-collar space has been booming as its counterpart fell short, the need for the classic labor work increased exponentially as well with its scarcity and thus value. Today, a basic bricklayer can earn far more than a paralegal or even a junior lawyer, simply by the economic principle of supply and demand. Its perceived value is quite justified, in my opinion, as there is little to no theory in the educational system and most of it is practice. You get exactly what you pay for. There’s also need to be said about the fact that any blue-collar job which basically builds civilization on the miniscule scale is something to be recognized for, in this case, monetary compensation/ salary expectations. There is quite a shortage of manual labor work across the EU and most companies are willing to pay large amounts of money for outsourcing staff from foreign countries. Even if blue-collar jobs under certain circumstances don’t have experts in the field, because it’s fairly easy to learn in practice, the salary expectations in those salary brackets are quite justified because of everything aforementioned.


Every business has to take into account the plethora of trends taking place when hiring because it will matter in negotiation and final decision. It’s obviously important to know what you’re getting in return for any hiring compensation and to distinguish between what is true and false or effective and ineffective. Managing today’s youth in terms of salary expectations can be tricky but it is necessary for them to stay the right course and open their eyes to reality. Selling today’s education in academia is good business but you’re rarely getting the bang for your buck in productivity which really matters at the end of the day, mind you, save for exceptions. Blue-collar sector can be the same, but it rarely is because of its educational practice and scarcity in today’s market. Knowing all of this can help alleviate or better manage the overall budget a company has for the workforce.

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