Nelson is seeking to better understand the demand side of chemical employment, with fewer inquiries into the supply side. From my 37-year career view, most of it on the managerial side, I would suggest that the larger issue is actually on the supply side: the employability of chemists, which stems from their versatility, flexibility, and adaptability. These attributes are derived from both personal characteristics and educational experiences. And the education part is strongly influenced by those same personal characteristics.
I found early on that chemists were about the most employable specialists in our economy. They weren’t the highest paid, but they had the widest range of possible employment situations, shared with few others. To me, the rate-limiting step in employability comes from the attributes previously mentioned. Anything that enhances those attributes in the selection and training of chemists will transcend any specifics regarding how the job landscape is changing.
I don’t think that spending a lot of time and effort on the other factors described in Nelson’s article will be anywhere near as productive as the issues mentioned previously. Instead, I suggest that she and her study group focus on the unique qualities that are presented by individuals trained in chemical science and engineering and how that contributes to their employability in a continuously changing marketplace. In short, it’s how readily employees can adapt to changing conditions around them that determines their long-term value to their employers, particularly in an environment with a continuously increasing change rate.
To begin, one might refer to the academic studies conducted at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management under professor Edward Roberts (I’m most familiar with his group’s work), plus similar work at Northwestern University and others. They collectively published quite a bit about the versatility, flexibility, and adaptability issues, which led chemists to be employable well beyond conventional chemical research, development, and production positions. That describes the capability of a group of people, which allows them to adapt to whatever specifics that may appear in the future.
Lou FloydYou peons never mind about what us managers are up to, just make sure to brush up on your transferrable skills!
The inability of some managerial types to express any sort of empathy or have some level of emotional intelligence about their employees is on full display in that letter. There's not a hint of data, or an attempt to grapple with the negative-trending statistics about chemist employment or wage stagnation.