Scanning various employment trend articles I wish to
point out a piece by Louise Tutelian on “Disappearing
Jobs in High Paying Careers.”
The article points out: “nearly half of all chemists are
employed in manufacturing firms…” and “they are
continuing to outsource their R&D and testing to
small specialized firms…”
“…BLS projects only a 2 per cent rise in the total
number of chemists employed by 2018.”
Though the data in table form is true, one might be
a little suspicious of headline type warnings. My reasoning
1. growth, in truth, is expected to be slower in “traditional
chemical areas,” ie., 2%– list in the BLS publication:
plastics, polymers and synthetic materials. But, material
science and biotechnology will grow and remain strong
employment areas. This difference lacks an
plastics and polymers are material science and
biotechnology is synthetic materials.
[Is the author aware of the terms and meanings? I
2. using “one year factoids,” like the loss of 42,000
jobs in 2008-9, might be ‘real data’ reported by C&EN.
Combined with the job market being truly tight can
lead to short term thinking. The reality is that chemistry
formal education can be applied in other fields.
Employment in Chemistry is competitive with stresses
coming from outsourcing, global market realities (inflation,
recessions, mergers and acquisitions) and raw material
and hazardous waste regulations. We have learned not
to be complacent but to adjust and innovate. Careers
with shorter stints in various sized firms and different
fields are seen now as both an advantage and a norm.
3. There are sub-fields of chemistry that are critically
needed to support a growing population–
food, energy, chemical transformation and remediation
management, biotech/pharma, and the associated fields.
The article paragraph seems to reveal a short term
observation and misses the broader multi-dimensional
trajectories of other related fields and needs.
It is no surprise to chemists to expect the employment
situation to reward
- keeping up with trends in companies and industries,
- keep learning new techniques and
- remain abreast of the latest technical and business