As a retired chemist who is fortunately no longer subject to the vagaries of the employment market, I was still appalled by both the high unemployment figures for chemists and the low starting salaries (C&EN, June 4, page 36).
Chemistry graduates face one of the most daunting curricula at a college or university, one that requires intellectual and practical skills. They now encounter a high unemployment rate, as well as a low starting salary. While “only” 17% are unemployed and 14% actively looking for employment, these figures are warped by the high percentage of those who, whether by choice or necessity, have chosen to go to graduate school, leaving only 23% permanently employed. At the Ph.D. level, the numbers are not much more encouraging.
The irony is that there is a demand from Congress and the executive branch to graduate a larger number of technically trained students. The question to ask is, for what purpose? Is it to increase the already excess numbers of such students? Are we becoming a nation of overeducated and underemployed people?
I hope not, but signs indicate that this is what is occurring.
By Nelson MaransBest wishes to Mr. (Dr.?) Marans, who seems to be enjoying his retirement writing letters to the editor.
Silver Spring, Md.