According to a recent report, research is a promising job. Still, forecasters also predict uncertainties...
According to the authors, technical innovation will remain, in all sectors, one of the main development boosters and should sustain the employment of R&D professionals. 60,000 genuine job creations are expected between 2005 and 2015 to which 58,000 replacements of retired people must be added to reach a total of 118,000 posts to be filled between 2005 and 2015. This would represent a 3.8% average growth per year and would set the total population of R&D executives to 331,000 in 2015.
Investments, concentration and attractiveness: possible brakes
There are two uncertainties though. The first one is that the innovation effort will require companies' investments to rise again. Voluntarism of authorities will also be of major importance to induce better relationship between private and public research. The second uncertainty comes from the increasing need for industrial research to reach a critical size, which makes multinational industrial groups concentrate their R&D activities on a limited number of locations. Difficulty in recruiting researchers and work costs issues could lead some industrial sectors to develop their R&D activities outside of France.
Development of short term contracts in the public sector
The report also raises interrogations about the evolution of employment in the public sector. In this sector, researchers are traditionally hired after a PhD and spend their whole career doing research. In the private sector, a researcher's job is a junior job at the beginning of an evolution leading towards executive manager positions. In the future, it is quite possible that short term contracts will develop to the detriment of permanent positions at the entry of the public sector. After a first work experience in the public sector, many young researchers would have to turn to teaching positions or to private research.
When we'll run out of engineers...
Anyway, forecasts are quite optimistic for higher education graduates: the report even says that we could reach a situation of full employment or even of a lack of graduates. In 2015, the unemployment rate of graduates of bachelor level and higher should drop to 2% only, against 16% today. Anticipating a growth of the need of engineers, computer scientists and researchers, the report advises employers to diversify their recruitment which is, for now, too focused on the Master level and sometimes on certain engineering schools only.
Les métiers en 2015
Olivier Chardon (direction de l'animation et de la recherche, des études et des statistiques - DARES -, ministère de l'emploi et de la cohésion sociale) and Marc-Antoine Estrade (Centre d'analyse stratégique), La Documentation française, January 2007.
René-Luc Bénichou (translation: Fabrice Martin),
February 7, 2007