Professional integration of PhDs: A Center for Strategic Studies analysis


It has been said time and again: university degrees shield you from unemployment. What’s more, the higher your degree, the less chance you have of experiencing unemployment on graduation. However, for the past ten years, the PhD seems to be an exception, with an unemployment rate of 10%, compared to 7% for those who hold a Master’s level degree. Mohamed Harfi and Laudeline Auriol at the Center for Strategic Analysis (CAS) have looked into what indeed appears to be a French exception.

Don’t let this rather discouraging introduction stop you from reading on: this newswatch remains an opportunity to take stock of some interesting observations that are more subtle than it first appears:
Reiterating the importance of the stakes – the image of science among young people and the quality of future hires, the international image of French science, our country’s capacity for innovation and its competitiveness in the knowledge economy, just to give you an idea - Mohammed Harfi and Laudeline Auriol formulate 5 recommendations:
  1. Improve information to institutions and students, particularly by associating private actors more in the regular production of data by discipline regarding recruitment needs and the professional integration of PhDs.
  2. Reaffirm the central role of Higher Education and Research Clusters in coordinating and regulating the doctoral training on offer, particularly by fostering transfer of the ability to deliver degrees and the means to finance doctoral contracts over to these clusters.
  3. Associate the major engineering schools with doctoral training programs to enable more engineers to do a PhD.
  4. Increase the proportion of funded PhDs, particularly by companies: first by setting goals for universities in the framework of their contract with the state; and second, by devising a scheme that would enable a company to fund a PhD in return for the doctoral student’s commitment to remain with the company for a few years after being hired.
  5. Recognize the PhD in collective bargaining agreements, particularly in pay scales.

What about you? What do you think about these suggestions? Don’t hesitate to give us your comments below.

Source: Obstacles to the Professional Integration of PhDs: Reasons for a French Exception,” Mohammed Harfi and Laudeline Auriol, Newswatch n°189, July 2010, Center for Strategic Analysis.