Only 1 in 5 Canadians with PhDs land a tenure-track job in their field

Is Canada creating too many PhDs? There's a big disconnect today between the academic work doctoral students hope to find, and what's available to them once they earn their degrees. Today we look at the problem, and how the private sector could be part of the solution.
Canadians with PhDs who depend on academic jobs, often end up underemployed, according to a new study. (Joachim Schlosser/Flickr CC)

Earning a PhD takes a lot of hard work and study and student loans, and it means spending extra years in school, after your peers have graduated and gone onto to the so-called "real world."

But a PhD comes with a tenure-track job, a respected professorship, a lifetime of rewarding, intellectual work in your chosen field. Or at least, that's how it was supposed to go. But many recently minted Canadian PhDs can tell you it certainly doesn't go that way.  

In fact, just one in five Canadian PhDs will get a tenure-track job in their field. And according to a new report from the Conference Board of Canada, there is a disconnect between expectations and reality for those who pursue a doctorate here.

Michael Bloom is the vice president of Industry and Business Strategy at the Conference Board of Canada. He was in Ottawa.

For many PhD graduates, finding steady work in post-secondary education can be a struggle and Jen Cypher knows that first-hand.

Jen Cypher got her PhD in environmental studies in 2012, and is now a contract faculty member at York University. She's also the chair of a union representing contract faculty and grad students at York in Toronto.

As a PhD holder Jen Cypher is not alone in her frustration - caught between poor job prospects in academia and not knowing how her skill set translates in the private sector. Mitacs is a non-profit set up to help PhDs bridge that gap. 

Rob Annan is the Chief Research Officer at Mitacs. He was in our Ottawa studio. 
 

We want to hear your thoughts on this, especially if you have a PhD, or have your own thoughts about solutions.

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This segment was produced by The Current's Julian Uzielli and Sujata Berry.