I read the article “The Real Science Gap” today on the Miller-McCune web site about the lack of jobs in America for engineers and scientists. To sum up, we do not have a “brain drain” per the popular misconception, but rather a lack of career opportunities for gifted scientists under the current pyramid structure. There is simply not enough funding and not enough tenure-track university professorships to sustain the number of Ph.D. graduates out there, so this pool of highly-skilled intellectuals is drifting into other careers. Without a career track to support even a moderate middle class lifestyle, the graduating elite is deciding against the prospect of many arduous years spent as a PostDoc under faculty whose primary motivation is to win grants and not to place their students in good jobs. These same jobs are still very attractive to foreign-born scientists and technical experts who often are coming from a more low-wage country. The article suggests that it is not our schools that need changing, but the structure of the labor market and the way we fund research.
Read the article, it’s very interesting. What can really be done?