Recruiting researchers: survey of employer practice 2009


Vitae’s newest publication (written by Maica Rubio and myself) explores the practices of non-higher education employers in relation to doctoral graduates. Recruiting researchers: survey of employer practice 2009 argues that around three quarters of employers are interested in recruiting doctoral graduates but that only around a third have a clear strategy for attracting this group. The report also highlights the fact that where employers are well informed, have strong relationships with universities and have experience of doctoral graduates they are much more likely to target them in recruitment. There is a clear need for the higher education sector to communicate the value of this cohort more effectively. However there is also advantage to be gained for those employers who actively target researchers. Employers who had experience of researchers rated their competencies higher than those who did not have experience of the group. In the right roles researcher can clearly add a lot to a business.

Hopefully you’ll think that the report is worth a read.

One of the things that struck me as we were finishing it off and presenting it at the Vitae Policy Forum this year was how the context for giving careers advice for researchers has changed over the last few years. When I started working with this group we knew almost nothing about the labour market for doctoral graduates. We now have the What do researchers do? series which provides quantitative information on researcher first destinations and qualitative career histories. The addition of this publication on employer practice fills out the picture even further. We now know a huge amount about the researcher labour market. What is more we know that the researcher labour market is very broad (both inside and outside of HE). The LDLHE also tells us that postgraduates are likely to perform better in the labour market than undergraduates. So, those of us who’ve been involved in the Roberts Agenda should feel pretty pleased as we can now confidently say that researchers have lots of career options and that there is also lots of information to help them make their decisions. Well done us!

So what do we need next to fill out the picture further?

One comment

  1. I’m also interested in how the context for giving careers advice to researchers has changed in relation to the acceptance of the concept amongst researchers and their supervisors. It seems that there are increasing numbers of specialist researcher advisers in HE careers services. This is obviously helped by the Roberts Agenda (and the money that goes with it). But are attitudes changing? Is it being seen as more acceptable to discuss career options other than research without being seen as a failure?As a parallel example, it is amazing how the attitude to careers advice has changed within the medical profession. A few years ago, the careers service was ‘the enemy’ (direct quote from a medical education director). Apparently, we poached good people away from medicine into careers in the City.Ever since the big shake up of medical education, training and recruitment they can’t get enough of us. There seems to be a realisation that career choice within medicine is in need of support. There are still quite a few representatives of the ‘old guard’ who eye us with suspicion, if not outright hostility. But things are definitely changing.

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