Author: Charlotte Anthony | Category: Career Development | March 19, 2015
“Before 1994, there were no faculty over 70 and less than 13
percent were over 60,” said Dr. Andrea Giuffrida, vice president of research ad
interim at UT Health Science Center. “In 2006, the law changed and now over 5
percent are over 70 and 18 percent are greater than 60. This means that there
are less new spaces for younger faculty.”
Dr. Giuffrida spoke about the changing academic workforce at
the Pathways to Careers in Science workshop alongside panelists Dr. Robert
Balster, Dr. Amy Hauck Newman, Dr. Timothy Raabe, and Maj. Stuart Tyner.
“We know we produce
about 55,000 new doctoral graduates per year and we know it has increased by 75
percent since 1992,” Dr. Giuffrida explained.
Rheaclare Fraser, a postdoctoral research fellow at UT Health
Science Center, said that conversations about the reduced number of academic
positions are happening more and more.
“Academic institutions are starting to be honest about the availability
of these types of jobs, which is important not only for trainees but the
trainers (PI’s, advisers, administration) to understand and accept also, in
order to get a better handle and tailor preparation for other job markets in
need of biomedical Ph.D. scientists,” Fraser said.
This information was important for graduate students and
postdoctoral fellows especially those considering teaching positions in
“Competition is steep across many sectors, so it’s really
important to prepare and set yourself apart in the best ways possible,” Fraser
Dr. Giuffrida explained that people need to be a little more
careful with the type of Ph.D. they select especially if they want a career in
“The job market is not fun and it’s becoming more and more
competitive and what is clear is that having a Ph.D. is not sufficient enough
to land a position in academia anymore,” Dr. Giuffrida said. “Only 1-2 percent
of Ph.D. graduates and 14 percent of postdocs eventually get a professorship.”
Fraser agreed that care needs to be taken with the type of
Ph.D. that is chosen for each person.
“I think we’re going to have to see the structure of Ph.D.
training change in order to meet this need,” Fraser said. “Schools will have to
incorporate more systematic changes at the institutional levels in order to
tailor the Ph.D. to each trainees’ talents and career interests.”
Despite the competitive job market for teaching positions,
Dr. Giuffrida still believes that the market demand for a Ph.D. is still high.
“Ph.D.’s have a lot of skills that are useful in the
workplace such as critical thinking skills and the ability to communicate with
clarity and rigor,” Dr. Giuffrida said. “Overall, Ph.D.’s enjoy a low
unemployment rate of less than 2 percent.”
Dr. Giuffrida believes that graduate students and
postdoctoral fellows should be able to articulate their skills for different
“You should be able to explain what you can do to help the
company,” he said. “Being able to communicate what you do in a successful way
is critical to getting a job.”
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