How to boost the PHD labour market? : facts from the PHD system side

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2013-09
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OCDE publications in the early 1990s on Science-Technology-Economy alerted several member countries on the prediction of a future shortage of skilled researchers and its possible impact on the economy. Consequently, on the decade 1998-2009 the number of doctorates handed out in all OECD countries grew by 31%. Doctoral holders are not only the most qualified in terms of educational attainment, but also those who are specifically trained to conduct research. Although the unemployment rate for doctoral holders is stabilized around 3% since 2006, nowadays it is becoming more and more difficult for them to find a job corresponding to their qualification. The recruitment of PhD graduates in the private sector (business, industry) should be considered a key avenue in converting research into commercialized innovations, technological progress and productivity growth of the countries. Universities and R&D and innovation policy makers are committed in boosting the PhD labour market. This paper discusses the diagnosis of the situation of the PhD job market, the careers and mobility of doctorates holders along the OCDE countries. Having analyzed the employment of PhD holders in the private sector and bearing in mind that most of the doctoral programs conform to a classical old model, our interest is focused on exploring significant relationships between the intensity of graduate’s employment in private sector and new strategies implemented in recently upgraded doctoral systems. Conclusions relating recent reforms in the PhD system established in some OECD countries and their PhD labour market are stated out. In this study we make intensive use of the data collected through a collaborative project launched by the OECD with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and Eurostat (OECD/UIS/Eurostat project) aimed at developing internationally comparable indicators on the careers and mobility of doctorate holders in 2009, the CDH project
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