Inside and Outside the Academy: Valuing and Preparing PhDs for Careers

The Conference Board of Canada, 131 pages, November 24, 2015
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This report examines the employment opportunities and outcomes of PhD holders inside and outside academia, the state of professional skills development for PhD students, and examples of professional development initiatives in Canada and peer countries.

Document Highlights

A PhD is a prerequisite for an academic career, but fewer than 20 per cent of Canada’s PhDs are employed as full-time university professors. The majority of PhDs are employed in a wide range of rewarding careers outside academia. This report examines the employment opportunities and outcomes of PhD holders both inside and outside academia. It characterizes the challenges that some PhD graduates face when transitioning to careers beyond post-secondary education, as well as the state of demand and receptor capacity for PhDs among Canada’s employers. The valuable contributions that PhDs make in a wide range of careers are highlighted. The report examines the state of professional skills development for PhD students and innovative examples of professional development initiatives in Canada and peer countries.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Chapter 1—Introduction

  • Professional Skills for PhDs
  • Employer Demand and Receptor Capacity
  • Purpose of the Report
  • Methodology
  • Structure of the Report

Chapter 2—From Classes to Careers: Pathways and Outcomes for PhDs

  • PhDs in Canada: Profile and Trends
  • Field of Study
  • Career Expectations of PhD Graduates in Canada
  • Delayed Retirements Are Not a Major Issue
  • Employment Outcomes for PhDs in Canada
  • Earnings
  • Weak Employer Demand and Challenging Transitions
  • Valuing and Preparing PhDs

Chapter 3—Inside and Outside the Academy: The Value of a PhD in Canada

  • Individual Benefits and Costs of Pursuing a PhD
  • Knowledge and Skills Gained Through PhD Studies
  • Social Contributions of PhDs Beyond PSE
  • Arts and Cultural Contributions of PhDs Beyond the Academy
  • Conclusion

Chapter 4—What’s Needed?

  • Professional Development Challenges
  • Barriers to Successful Transitions
  • Easing Career Transitions for PhD Graduates
  • Conclusion

Chapter 5—The State of Professional Skills Development Initiatives in Canada

  • Supplementary Skills Development Initiatives
  • Immersive Initiatives
  • Transformative Initiatives
  • Conclusion

Chapter 6—Learning From International Models

  • Industrial PhD Programs
  • Denmark’s Industrial PhD Programme
  • Skills Development Initiatives
  • Lessons Learned From International Initiatives

Chapter 7—Recommendations

  • Conclusion

Appendix A—Bibliography

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