the Impact of Doctoral Careers… or what do employers think of you?

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 22.21.19You may remember that a couple of weeks ago my colleague Kay talked a bit about the knowledge economy and the researcher pipeline and I think it’s worth further unpicking an interesting piece of research recently published by Research Councils UK and the Higher Education Funding Councils for England and Wales which gives a very positive view of how doctoral graduates contribute to the competitiveness and innovation of businesses. The full report can be accessed here.

It also goes a long way to counter the more negative views some employers may have of recruiting researchers. As someone who has been involved in conducting this type of survey research into the attitudes employers have around recruiting researchers for positions outside academia*, I was impressed with this new study that has surveyed nearly 2,000 researchers (graduated with a doctorate seven to nine years ago) and interviewed over 250 in addition. To top this they also interviewed nearly 100 employers who had recruited doctoral graduates. This report also considers their current roles, career history, value to employers and contribution to innovation and wider socio-economic impact and provides an encouraging view on the value businesses who employ PhDs, place on their specialist knowledge, research skills and problem solving ability.

It goes further by stating one in five employers view doctoral graduates as business critical. This was particularly the case for research and development and manufacturing and engineering sectors. Add businesses who are built on science and technology then you have a very marketable commodity! But, it is not just in these sectors that demand for researchers occurs, employers value research and analytical skills, new approaches to problem solving skills, and capacity for critical thinking. The list is endless and very encouraging.

If you are reading this wondering how your PhD will be viewed by an employer…they appreciate how you can’ innovate, develop new or improved goods, services, processes and ways of working.’ In the full report a range of examples and case studies are presented of the variety of ways a doctoral graduate contributes to innovation:

‘improved telecommunication; detection of cybercrime; creating new flavours for the food industry; reducing the multiple births from fertility treatment; iPad app allowing users to explore exhibits in a museum; speeding up assessment of financial claims’

There are some great quotes from employers in the report, so read on and appreciate a new take on your skillset.

* ‘SEARCH – Survey of employer attitudes to postgraduate researchers‘ (2006) and ‘Recruiting Researchers – survey of employer practice‘ (Vitae 2009)

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