PhD: the gateway to employment

September 6, 2010

The time and effort spent gaining a PhD is repaid handsomely in excellent career prospects, according to research presented at the Vitae researcher development conference today.

A study of doctoral employment carried out for Research Councils UK found that doctoral graduates are highly employable – under 2 per cent of those with a PhD were out of work three years after completing their doctorates.

Although more than half (54 per cent) of those questioned are employed outside the academy, 94 per cent say they use their research skills in their work and about 40 per cent say they carry out research “most of the time”.

In a report on the findings, What Do Researchers Do? Doctoral Graduate Destinations and Impact Three Years On, Vitae says that doctoral graduates had established careers in sectors including healthcare, engineering and finance.

Most of those questioned feel that their research skills are useful, with 92 per cent stating that they helped them to be “innovative” in the workplace.

The study concludes that the supply of highly skilled workers is critical to the UK’s economic growth and social well-being.

Rick Rylance, chief executive of the Arts and Humanities Research Council and RCUK’s “champion for research careers”, said the report provided “comprehensive evidence of the value of doctoral study to researchers, their employers and society at large”.

The analysis was conducted by the Institute for Employment Studies for RCUK and supported by Vitae. It used data from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education and the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Longitudinal Survey, both produced by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

The 2010 Vitae conference is taking place in Manchester on 6-7 September.

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