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    Glenn Masson said:

    <i>a “deep understanding of a specific area” – which is what a PhD is supposed to provide.</i>

    That’s exactly the problem.Typically employers in a STEM field such as biochemistry want a range of skills, but they also want the peace of mind which comes with the salutation of Dr. This results in industry preferentially employing older postdocs, who realise that after 6-10 years in the PostDoc circuit they will not become (or do not wish to become) a principle investigator. All of a sudden the employment prospects in Big Pharma look far more inviting.

    This has lead to a huge inflation in the prerequisites for entry level jobs in industry – often advertised jobs ask for “demonstrated expertise” (<i>read first author paper in tier 1 journal</i>) in a <b>number of diverse techniques or fields</b>. When the entry standards of industrial jobs are so high, it also leads industry head-hunting specific post-docs for certain positions. This leaves little to offer for those perusing naturejobs, or virgin PhDs entering the employment arena. The extra 6-10 years being a postdoc allow you to pad out your CV and broaden your skillset, gaining you access to industry. Big Pharma want you to be working, and they don’t want to spend time teaching you new skills.

    The solution? Industry needs to create more entry level jobs with lower prerequisite skills, and academia needs to allow students to gain a broader range of experience. They also need to embrace inexperience, and treat it as an opportunity to develop new employees.

    When we produce PhDs with too narrow a scientific focus, and hire only scientists who have very specific experience and technical expertise, it’s no wonder that the majority of people feel out of the loop.

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