Monday, April 1, 2019

Shortage of Chemists Scored by Committee

Draft and ROTC Eating Into Personnel Vital to Industry
March 7, 1942

A survey of 118 colleges, universities, and technical, schools conducted by the Defense Committee of the American Chemical Society shows an "appalling shortage" of trained individuals in chemistry and chemical engineering. Lack of technically trained men for industry is jeopardizing future production, according to the Committee, of which Professor Roger Adams, head of the department of chemistry at the University of Illinois, is chairman.

"By far the greatest proportionate demand is for those to be graduated at the doctorate level, most of whom have accepted positions pending receipt of their degrees," the Committee finds. "The colleges report almost without exception that chemical or chemical engineering alumni are all employed and that current demands cannot be supplied."

Shortage Emphasized Here

In response to the Committee's questionnaire, Harvard University declares that the shortage of trained chemists, especially at the doctor's level, is the most serious in its experience. The University of California states that "the Army and Navy have removed from the supply of men a large percentage of the more able students."

Massachusetts Institute of Technology reports that 42 per cent of the Seniors in its chemical engineering department will become reserve officers. The department of chemistry at M.I.T. is receiving more requests for chemists of all three grades as compared with the last three years, according to the report, and the graduates of June, 1942, with the Ph.D. or M.S. degree are placed at present to the extent of 82 per cent of the total.

(actual article, believe it or not)


  1. Well, I remember something striking when I was in Chem graduate school, where the Chem department was ranked 25 in the USA, and the Chem engineering department was ranked about 4. I went to a job fair at the school and there were plenty of companies....who wanted the chemical engineers. Great salaries for even the BS graduates. None of the companies was interested in a chemist, in particular a PhD chemist.

    My distillation (ha-ha) of all this is that companies believe there is a shortage of STEM graduates from top 5 program of any particular field, as companies feel entitiled to (what they think) are the very best people out there. So, if you are, say, a synthetic organic chemist, my distillation of this is that there is that a company would say there is a shortage of chemists from the Corey and Baran labs. Any graduates from not so famous places or labs need not apply.

    This is what happens when you have too many PhD programs pumping out PhD's (with plenty of spaces filled by immigrants because the 2nd or 3rd tier schools cant find what they consider good american candidates), and not enough jobs for them. Companies say: we dont have enough STEM.

    1. A lot of "chemical companies" are just cranking out product with little or no R&D. Manufacturing companies need engineers and QC techs, but don't really need scientists.

  2. Maybe in 1942 there was a shortage, but now it seems like there is certainly no shortage. As anon 10:42 states, there are likely 'shortages' of top ten graduates, which is what everyone wants, and many companies in my experience, think they are entitled to such 'caliber' of graduate. I personally think a mid tier graduate student who comes from a CRO would be an ideal candidate at any large corporate setting because he or she has been required to do a lot more work with a lot less resources.

  3. Hahah, you got me, April fools!