9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN19 Sociology of Professions

2009-09-05 15:30:00 2009-09-05 17:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 15:30 - 17:00 Changes and Continuities in the Position of Professions in Organizations Building I, Auditório 2

PhD and Career - How adequate is the job-situation of professionals holding a PhD in Switzerland?

During educational expansion, a debate arose in many European countries concerning the rising number of academic professionals and oversaturation of the labour market. In Switzerland the number of university graduates searching for a job was in 2007 with only 2.2 Percent below the average unemployment rate of 3.6 Percent and therefore extremely low. It seems that the Swiss labour market is able to fully absorb rising numbers of academics. But, do professionals, especially PhD graduates, get jobs that match their education?

This paper focuses on the definition of job adequacy and risk factors of inadequate job situations. Hypotheses are derived from labour market theories which explain the role of a PhD as a signal leading to first row positions in labour queues. Furthermore, we employ human capital theory where the PhD should increase productivity and affect labour market outcomes positively.

Strength of the paper is the multidimensional definition of job adequacy measured on three different levels. The vertical job adequacy consists of ?objective? factors such as earnings, occupational positions and required job entry qualifications. Horizontal adequacy characterises the accordance of academic education (contents learned at university) with occupational requirements. Third, we look at subjective evaluations of the job situation.

We analyse a unique dataset containing complete educational and occupational career of 1?300 PhD graduates in Switzerland using descriptive and multivariate methods. Results support segmentation theory showing great differences between professional disciplines with economics benefiting most in vertical adequacy. Comparing skills learned during doctoral studies and contents of the recent job graduates in engineering and nature science report the best matching. Social Scientists counter their bad image regarding labour market prospects holding a middle position in most dimensions. PhDs in Law evaluate their job adequacy significantly more positive than others. Women report lower vertical adequacy while the other measures show no differences, when controlling for part time employment. Overall, the situation of professionals in the Swiss labour market holding a PhD is very positive and supports hypotheses arguing that the PhD is a highly valued and unique signal.