Higher Education Losing its Value? Or Too Many Scientists?
Writing for The Atlantic, Jordan Weissmann touches on a sad—kind of scary—situation facing PhD graduates:
First, the big picture. Here is the entire market for Ph.D.'s, including those graduating from humanities, science, education, and other programs. The blue line tracks students who have a job waiting for them after graduation. The green line tracks those signed up for a post-doctorate study program. The red line stands for the jobless (though a sliver of them are heading to another academic program).
The pattern reaching back to 2001 is clear -- fewer jobs, more unemployment, and more post-doc work -- especially in the sciences. A post doc essentially translates into toiling as a low-paid lab hand (emphasis on low-paid). Once it was just a one or two year rite of passage where budding scientists honed their research skills. Now it can stretch on for half a decade .
As the article makes clear, the charts aren't perfect and there are a lot of assumptions that went into the chart. Nevertheless, if we assume it paints a picture somewhat close to reality, it illustrates a potentially new trend.
The described situation—PhDs not getting jobs—is kind of sad for those pursuing higher education. Once upon a time, only some soft areas like humanities and arts graduates had difficulties finding jobs but now it looks like science and engineering is facing the same problem.
It's not clear to me if employers are starting to discount higher education (possibly due to too many degree-holders, who are not as skilled as several decades ago)... or if it is due to a skills mismatch (America graduating too many scientists). Leave your thoughts.