January 18, 2011

The future as a postdoc?

I read a report in "Science" the other day talking about the state of the scientific workforce. It was a bleak picture for the most part, particularly with regard to how postdocs are invisible in many ways (this may be improving a little bit). There are too many of us to all get scarce academic jobs (what the current system primarily trains us for), many private companies that might hire us are choosing to hire overseas due to the lower cost of labor. So where does that leave the current generation of postdocs who are highly educated and specialized? To fend for ourselves for the most part. To do the best we can and explore more than just research as a career. I hope the picture will improve, but for now it's stress and pressure (like in many other fields- but typically, we're not paid as much as other professionals). I know there's a drum beat in the United States to train more scientists, engineers and mathematicians. I'm all for a more educated populace and science is amazing for what it provides, but the business side of it is currently not a pretty picture from where I currently sit.