Monday, June 10, 2013

C&EN readers are worrying about #chemjobs

Seems like chemical employment-related letters are showing up more and more in the pages of C&EN -- here's the latest batch in this week's C&EN:
Wm. Charles Jamison’s letter was spot-on (C&EN, April 15, page 2). The top priority for the American Chemical Society should be to improve the job market and benefits for U.S. chemists and biochemists at all levels. We are going through a painful period in which too many chemists are unemployed, unemployable because of their age, or just underemployed. 
It makes no sense to make it a priority to bring in foreign chemists given these problems. I encourage ACS to lobby hard to maximize job opportunities for U.S. chemists and to defend their benefits from further erosion. In some cases, retraining to fit certain job opportunities may be required, but this should nonetheless take priority over bringing in foreign chemists. 
In the past, ACS has not given high enough priority to improving the job market for those who choose a career in chemistry in the U.S. I hope the society will adjust its priorities. 
Michael G. Henk
Jamison’s letter was refreshing. I loved his statement: “If ACS really exists to serve its membership—rather than large institutions such as major universities and multinational companies that principally want a bottomless pit of cheap labor—it is time to consult with other scientific societies and learn their views on the current employment outlook.” Amen, Mr. Jamison! 
John Connolly
Nashua, N.H.
I agree with Mr./Dr.(?) Henk that employment for ACS members should be the number 1 issue for the society. I suspect, from a dollars-and-cents perspective, that it is not.


  1. Your link in this article to C&EN doesn't work. Just a heads up if that where it was suppose to point to.

  2. First issue? You dues are barely enough to cover my salary.

  3. The ACS does not care about jobs. They say they do because they have to, like politicians pretending to be devout christians.

    The problem is the US is mediocre productivity, which is a direct result of a hyper-credentialist culture. Why engineers with 4 years college degree are getting hired for better salaries than your garden variety post-doc with a 4 years degree, a 5-6 years PhD and 2-3 years post-doc?

    Supply and demand? Yeahh, right. Talk to any head hunter, and they will tell you that cies can't fill their open positions because of lack of good people. They just don't want to hire a burnt toast in his mid-thirties that will throw up if he ever sees a labcoat again, and just want to spend his entire time on his deck of slides for the next Gordon conference.

    The golden standard of the US credentialist system, the Ivy league graduate post-docs with 20 top tier publications, do not want to work ever again. They want a private pharmaceutical cie to pay them a 6 figure salary for the rest of their lives as a reward for the academic marathon they went through to get the job in the first place.

    I have seen it over, and over, and over again. And at some point, somewhere up the food chain, an MBa counting beans wonder why it cost 200K$ a year for an employee (salaries + benefit) compared to an order of magnitude less oversee, for pretty much the same result (don't even get me started here).

    The ACS wants to promote and maintain this elitist culture, because if they can't flash their fancy degrees to impress people, what is it that they are supposed to do? Show their achievements? Unfortunately, there is nothing there to see.