Biotech, semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, and computer science all have one thing in common: they’re high tech businesses requiring high levels of expertise, and their career ladders in research and development prefer job applicants with a Ph.D. The problem for many young grads, however, is can they can afford and endure the steep path that lies between a bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D.? Many are already buckled with loans for their undergraduate education, so the fiscal burden of pushing to get a Ph.D. is difficult to bear. For many others, they see years of deferred earnings while they try for the “holy grail” of their Ph.D.
I recently spoke with a new biochemistry graduate from a major university. When he graduated, he immediately got a job with a local biotech firm in R&D. But stated that if you don’t get a Ph.D., there’s absolutely no future opportunity to progress in R&D, so you need to decide if you wish to go into the company side or return to school. The career ladders within this business seemed oddly binary and restricted. You either find the Ph.D. so that you can advance your career, or you go into business. Instead, give those with bachelor’s or master’s degrees opportunities in analytics. But why?
First, industries like pharmaceuticals, medicine, genome research and semiconductors have R&D units which rely on high performance computing (HPC), which uses supercomputers to perform highly complex calculations and calculations in the formulation of scientific concepts, new medications, genome research, etc.. Someone with knowledge of those fields must develop the questions and algorithms capable of pluming complex bodies of information so replies are available, and lots of new grads could slot very easily to this work.
Second, we know that demand far outpaces supply when you look to hire data scientists. The median base salary for these treasured folks is currently at $110,000 annually.
Third, technology continues to experience one of the highest employee turnover rates. Part of the reason for turnover might be the lack of specialist support. A 2016 business report from worker participation solution provider TINYpulse revealed that workers in technology report fewer opportunities for career development than workers from different industries.
All these components were evident when I visited with this newly-hired Biotech worker who had just earned his undergraduate degree – and why should not they be? He was making a meager entry-level wage; and he lacked a Ph.D., although he was delegated to R&D, so that he knew there wasn’t any long-term future.
But when I asked him where he would see a growth opportunity, the first words from his mouth were “high performance computing and analytics…We utilise private cloud computing assistance services, but I think my company could do more with this”
Here are some ways that leaders in technology companies can work on providing Employees with no Ph.D. a foot in the door:
- Continue to partner with universities around the world and also to use the HPC Facilities at these universities and at the cloud, since the concept of a consortium of companies and universities price sharing these very costly resources makes sense. Cost savings which result from the cloud-based resource sharing then provide you with more flexibility to invest in your own data analysts, and in financing and developing their own career paths, as they’ll be the principal individuals using these cloud-based assets for your organization.
- Concurrently take steps to develop internal analytics experience in the formulation of information algorithms and calculations. To do so, identify incoming workers who may not be qualified for study at the Ph.D. degree, but have a solid background in a scientific discipline such as biotech or pharmaceuticals and calculating. Then develop a third career path in the company for analytics which could parallel with the Ph.D. hard science route and the business/administration path. A path in this way might start out in a junior data analyst level, progressing to a senior data analyst and then on to a complete data scientist. The skills battery would consist of curating data, inventing algorithms and advanced queries, and possibly sharing or managing in the management of storage and processing resources.
- If your IT service provider or company can afford it, then develop a partnership with them to create education subsidy programs that help younger employees interested in pursuing advanced degrees. Tuition grants can be given in exchange for your workers signing agreements to remain with your company for a certain number of years to “pay back” the grant.
By investing in workers and formalizing new career paths that include analytics, technology companies have a chance to decrease employee churn and to build loyalty. Young workers, too, will appreciate the attempt. They’ll stay with companies longer as they begin to find that they have a future, and that they can also begin thinking about other life targets, like starting a family.