Here are the specific things that I would do, and I welcome your thoughts and suggestions as well:
- The ACS has addressed the employment issue in the past, with modest effects as the employment trends have cycled through good times and bad times. If elected President, I would create a mechanism whereby ACS efforts to address the employment issues are forceful, consistent and sustained, and this would be a long term means of engaging hiring managers, employment specialists, company owners, entrepreneurs and others who are Subject Matter Experts in employment trends.
- We need to engage employers to understand what it is that they want in terms of new chemist hires. Employers tell us they need chemists, but they often don’t hire the ones who apply. My first order of business is to answer this apparent disconnect, and look at what role the curriculum and educational training play in this.
- To aid in career planning, the ACS should undertake a comprehensive review of where the employment opportunities are now, and where they are projected to be in 5 years and in 10 years. This review would encompass all degree levels across many industries. I have also heard that companies have employee needs in chemical sales and marketing (as an example), and a strong background in chemistry is a plus. While this is not “bench top chemistry” per se, we need to continue to emphasize for our members that there are other opportunities for individuals with a chemistry background.
- Businesses are looking for new technologies to invest in, so we must identify a means of networking whereby new, novel research by chemists could attract business investment. We also must ensure that chemists and business can speak the same language and understand each other’s perspective.
- With the increasing trend for employees to change jobs frequently, whether intentional or not, many employers are reluctant to invest in training for new hires, and the outcome of this is that employers look for job candidates who can “hit the ground running.” We need to understand what the implications of this are and realign the ACS’ career services to address this.
- The ACS focuses its employment postings on large companies while the majority of the positions needing to be filled are in much smaller companies or with entrepreneurs. The ACS must identify ways to locate and publicize the companies and sectors that are hiring.
- The ACS must promote more “internship” style opportunities for students of chemistry and related fields, and more ways to connect undergraduates (those intending to go to graduate schools) with graduate labs and PIs.