Career prospects are not always as good as you would like them to be
Generally, PhD Candidates expect that with four years of experience with doctoral research their career prospects improve compared to the period immediately after their graduation. Especially for doctoral students in the ‘HOOP-areas’ Economics, Law, Behaviour and Society, Language and Culture, this is only the case when PhD candidates gained general skills interesting to potential employers, along with specific knowledge in their field of research. PNN is committed to providing opportunities for PhD candidates to develop this general skills and to create opportunities for PhD candidates to get in touch with potential employers.
For PhD candidates in the ‘HOOP-areas’ Agriculture, Nature, Technology and Health there are usually more offers of specific, often R&D-related functions outside the academy. (From VSNU Report Quick scan Young Talent in Science (June 2008)). The Dutch government should support the importance of this group of highly qualified young researchers, partly because of their contribution to the growth of the Dutch economy. Furthermore, the Dutch government should actively ensure the development of transferable skills and careerprospects of doctorate holders.
Abvakabo FNV has published a brief overview of recent developments in this area a result of their study “Arbeidsmarkt-perspectief hoger onderwijs”( Labour Market Perspective Higher Education).
Only 20% of the PhD Candidates find a job in science
PhD candidates make up about 35% of the academic staff. Within this group, the universities aren’t able to offer career prospects for 80% (see this article from the CBS) . Besides the responsibility of the PhD Candidates, it is also the responsibility of universities to provide the proper information concerning career prospects and also provide courses and the time to develop transferable skills.
Many employers outside academia appreciate PhD Candidates because of their specific knowledge and skills in a specific discipline, while PhD Candidates are foremost a group of highly talented individuals who possess a broad range of versatile skills, or transferable skills.
Role of the Universities
Universities can play a role in providing more opportunities for young researchers to develop skills in preparation for a future career within, but also outside the university.
Employers who are actively looking for PhD candidates can be divided into 2 categories:
Employers are looking for candidates with specific (technical) knowledge and analytical skills
Employers are looking for candidates with “all round” research skills, project management experience and a great problem-solving ability.