Issue Date: July 11, 2011
Economic & Professional Affairs
In Anaheim, the Committee on Economic & Professional Affairs (CEPA) focused on the plight of displaced workers and new graduates and, of course, the economy.
The committee heard a preliminary report from the Presidential Task Force on Innovation in the Chemical Enterprise: New Technologies for Society; New Jobs for Chemists, and will work to implement the recommendations of the task force when they are formally released later this year.
The unemployment rate for chemists in 2009 and 2010 was 3.9%, and 3.8%, respectively. These are the highest values observed since the society started collecting data in 1970. More distressing is the prevalence of long-term unemployed chemists (unemployed for more than a year). The average period of unemployment for a chemist is now 10.7 months. Three years ago it was approximately six months. CEPA is prioritizing assistance to this group of people who are at risk of being lost from the chemical workforce.
Equally distressing is the fact that the unemployment rates for new graduates are quite high. The unemployment rates for bachelor’s- and master’s-level chemists are higher than the national unemployment rate, while that of Ph.D. graduates is nearly the same as the national unemployment rate. As a result, many undergraduates are choosing to pursue advanced degrees, and Ph.D. graduates are being forced into the postdoctoral pool.
CEPA is working with the Graduate Education Advisory Board to address these issues so that new chemistry graduates can more readily gain employment in the chemical enterprise. CEPA is also collaborating with the International Activities Committee to develop resources for U.S. workers considering careers abroad, as well as public policy statements related to global employment.
The numbers of employers and job opportunities at the Career Fair in Anaheim were consistent with most other ACS career fairs held since the Great Recession began. However, these numbers were lower than at the fall 2010 ACS meeting, which was held in Boston.
Employers are hiring, but they don’t have enough positions to justify travel, and many of ACS’s unemployed members cannot afford to travel. Therefore, ACS Careers will host another Virtual Career Fair in conjunction with the ACS national meeting in Denver next fall, allowing employers and job seekers to interact both in person and virtually (www.acs.org/vcf).
CEPA continues to work to provide tools for chemical professionals to manage and develop their own career paths. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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