Monday, December 17, 2012

Hey, this labor market is weird!

From the letters this week at C&EN, an amusing set of juxtapositions:
I was nearly overcome with fear reading the Nov. 5 issue of C&EN. On page 11, I read of the “near-retirement ... of more than 6,000 physical scientists employed by DOD.” On page 26 is the statement: “Companies looking for highly skilled workers in the U.S. argue that more visa and green cards slots are needed so they can fill open positions.” Luckily, a short time later, the answer hit me as I read on page 50 that “in the U.S., unemployed chemists are still struggling to find jobs. The unemployment situation is especially dire for mid- to late-career chemists.” There are even tales of those forced to relocate to other parts of the U.S. or the world. 
Is a solution taking shape in the minds of C&EN readers? Perhaps something other than “reevaluating the security clearance system to open up more research jobs to foreign-born workers.”  
I personally am fortunate enough to not be in the situation of the unemployed—who are so artfully personified on the cover. However, if I were, I would find it quite insulting to read of a “scientist shortage” (page 11) without at least a cursory analysis from the editor. 
I haven’t seen this sort of self-contradiction since, well, the articles about the electric-vehicle market (C&EN, Oct. 22, pages 8 and 26). Please pull it together. 
Ken Doll
Peoria, Ill.
The non-interchangeable nature of scientists is a puzzle; if only there was a way for mid-career scientists to retrain for a new subspeciality. Hmmmm.


  1. If only there were some sort of post-grad school grad school... it could only work if the academic-industrial complex got to keep cutting themselves in for a piece of the action.

  2. Pretty nice subtle snark there in that letter.


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