Monday, December 18, 2006

Santas and elves: skilled and unskilled?

Apparently the demand for skilled Santas in Alberta vastly exceeds supply. The problem, says Victor Nevada, headmaster of a Calgary-based Santa School, is that Santas are being paid as though they were unskilled workers. Gasp!

Malls should classify the Santa position as skilled labour, he said, given the job requires skills ranging from acting to psychology.

"Santas encounter stories that cause a lot of emotional distress for Santa and children generally are regarding Santa at that point as psychologist, I suppose," he said. "They're looking to Santa to provide some closure, some comfort and so forth and that's why I say it's a skilled position. If a personal shopper can make $50 an hour I would think that a skilled Santa should also make at least about $50 an hour."

I'm sure it's gruelling, but there must be plenty of elves willing to do the job for less than $50.

That would answer the problem from the supply side, but what about demand? No problem. If malls were to treat elves as subsitutes to Santa rather than complements, perhaps supply will create its own demand, as Says Law goes. After all, elves are small (less intimidating) and often more agile (exciting). They can sell themselves.

Perhaps any one of these small people pictured below would have prefered an elf if only the market existed.

If demand is as low as anecdotal evidence suggests, there's no reason for wages to be as high as $50/hour, and thus Alberta's Santas are right to go work on the oil rigs.
Plenty of anecdotal evidence of weak demand sweeping across North America can be found here.

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