Issues in the employment of PhDs

Published on LinkedIn by Irena Lovrenčič Držanič Technical Associate (Institute of Media Communications - UM).

Issues in the employment of PhDs

Today’s labour market is fast changing as a result of technological development and market changes. This led the industry to demand new and different skills as before. Some forecasts predict that in future years more than one million jobs will be created in emerging areas such as renewable energy and digital-technological sector.

Skills most valued by employers are:

  • communication
  • teamwork
  • IT
  • organisation skills

The economic and labour markets of the future will be defined by:

  • flexibility: necessary training in languages, digitalization, technological skills, etc.
  • demands for specialized outsourcing services
  • demands for optimisation and effectiveness of productive processes: to increase profitability and competitiveness
  • globalisation of economic and labour relations: future employees will face no constraints by national boundaries

The issue of employment of PhDs has several possible causes. Amongst the first is an increase of doctorate holders. The number of doctorate holders in the European Union has been increasing steadily. However, the number of available positions in academia has not increased significantly.

Skills mismatch is another reason why doctorate holders stay in academia instead of getting employed in the industry. Employers value PhDs for their research skills, scientific knowledge and leadership skills, as well as technical skills, independence and self-confidence. Skills mismatch can be resolved by on-the-job training, such as during learning mobility.

According to studies, the skills most often lacking are:

  • management and leadership
  • communication
  • self-confidence
  • team skills
  • commercial thinking
  • adaptability
  • ability to translate research results to the public

Misinformation about PhDs. Smaller and medium-sized, less often even larger companies are not as familiar with the employment of PhDs as with other education levels. Primarily the reason is a low percentage of employees with PhD in comparison to other educational levels, but also due to their employment in academic or public service spheres.

In order to find the best suiting employees, companies need to express their needs regarding which skills their ideal employees should possess.

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