"skills shortage" ?

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"skills shortage" ?

Postby Val » Sun Jan 16, 2005 10:32 pm

Hi all,

We all are hearing that there is a "skills shortage" -- in other words, there is not enough of skilled specialists to do the jobs. On the other side, we all know that it is hard to get a job, and there are hordes of unemployed scientists. Why is such a discrepancy ?

There are at least two societal processes which are going on. The first is that the older generation (40+ y.o.) was exposed during the era of Cold War to the industrial-scientific environment with the rigorous demands to develop the products that really worked. However, the amount of workers in this age group is dwindling as baby-boomers are retiring.

The second process is that the workforce is being joined by those under 30 y.o. who are growing up in a different corporate culture. The culture is that the end result is not important; what important is the visibility of the person doing work. Young people have not being exposed to the responsibility to the successful outcome of any project; young people are not able to overview the whole project but they are only good at doing a part of it. Thus, they cannot do the work which requires complex intellectual activity -- they cannot do what companies require.

In resume, there is more of job searchers than job vacancies. At the same time, the number of really skilled specialists is less than the number of jobs which need them.

There is a corollary to it. The number of "low-skilled" "low-motivated" younger workers is growing while the number of "high-skilled" "high-motivated" older workers decreases, and such a trend will persist in the US. The only occupations which promise a sustainable career in the US will be in the service industry: e.g. law, medicine, business, banking, hospitality, military.

The second corollary is that there is a parallel process going on: on par with the widening gap between the amount of job vacancies and of the skilled job seekers, the skilled-labour jobs are shipped out of the US to the countries with the high-skilled high-motivated low-priced workers, such as China, India and Russia. I think the outsourcing of the scientific-industrial jobs will stabilize with 70-80% of the jobs sent overseas. Though the remaining 20-30% of the jobs will not be those of high-quality, as the base for labour training is removed, and competition will be fierce. If someone is interested to know how the employment market will feel, they are adviced to look at Australia, NZ and Canada where science is not required for success of industry.

The auditorium of this form will do well if they concentrate on doing what suits their inner calling and what they are good at. This will get them through the restless times ahead. Forget about specialising in the minute hot areas (nanotechnology, biotechnology, bioinformatics etc).

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"skills shortage" ?

Postby Kim » Sun Jan 16, 2005 11:31 pm

I do not believe that there is a shortage. It is just a myth.

Dating can be an analogy. I can wait forever for a perfect mate to come along. Beautiful, rich, considerate, tall, with nice personalities, obedient, faithful, good pedigree, same religion, fertile, same taste of arts, foods and musics, good to pets... But in reality, this kind of a perfect mate will probably never come. We all have probably heard the phrase among women that "All the good men out there are either gays or married". In the end, if I am desperate enough and if I can grasp the reality, I will lower my standards and have to settle for someone for less. Or I will be single forever...

The same relationship can be applied to job seekers and employers.
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"skills shortage" ?

Postby AL » Mon Jan 17, 2005 9:54 pm

There is a huge shortage right now of people with good quantitative, math-related skills in the biosciences. Witness the fact that newly minted biostats PhDs can get faculty positions right off the bat. And they have no problems whatsoever finding employment in industry, either.

I don't think the demand for biostatisticians is likely to change any time soon. Now that biotech and "big pharma" have plenty of new targets, I'm guessing that the need for people to run and analyze clinical trials is going to increase for the next decade, at least.

The pipeline of students is narrow, and the time it takes to aquire the skills is significant.

So I would say there is definite shortage of people in the biostatistics field. Will this last? I think it will - at least for another decade.

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