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      I’m Canadian, but my father often worked overseas. My earliest memories are not of Vancouver, where I was born, but of Malaysia, where I spent my first five years.  The person who took care of me then was not my mother, but Anna, the housekeeper. She was a Chinese Malay and I spent most of […]
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WaPo: US Pushes for more scientists but the jobs aren’t there

Kudos to Brian Verstag for getting the truth out about the reality of the STEM professional.  There just aren’t any jobs out there.  Read the story here.  Here’s the money quote:

Obama has made science education a priority, launching a White House science fair to get young people interested in the field.

But it’s questionable whether those youths will be able to find work when they get a PhD. Although jobs in some high-tech areas, especially computer and petroleum engineering, seem to be booming, the market is much tighter for lab-bound scientists — those seeking new discoveries in biology, chemistry and medicine.

“There have been many predictions of [science] labor shortages and . . . robust job growth,” said Jim Austin, editor of the online magazine ScienceCareers. “And yet, it seems awfully hard for people to find a job. Anyone who goes into science expecting employers to clamor for their services will be deeply disappointed.”

Disclaimer: I talked to Brian for this article and though he got a few of my details not *quite* right, overall the article is spot on about what we are going through.

There are more than 3700 comments so, clearly, he has struck a nerve.  Thank you, Brian.

One other thing:  Just because we are losing a lot of jobs in the life sciences doesn’t mean that there is a shortage of work to be done.  That is perhaps the most painful reality when it comes to the crisis in the STEM professions.  The truth is that biology is undergoing a radical transformation at the present time.  We *should* be throwing as much brain power as possible at every problem just to stay on top of it.  There are more than enough problems to be solved to keep every scientist on the planet fully occupied for the rest of their natural lives.

The problem is that no one wants to pay for it.  And there are no shortcuts in science. It is a lengthy process where we sometimes end up with more questions than we started with.  That kind of endeavor isn’t very profitable anymore, or not to Wall Street’s standards anyway.  To solve some of biology’s biggest problems, we will need much more government intervention.  Fortunately, infusions of cash into the research area would amount to a tiny fraction of what we have already thrown at the banks.

 

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