News

From the Dean: Match-making: society needs doctors

During the past twenty years, doctoral training in Finnish universities has increased threefold.

Currently 1700 PhDs graduate annually, more than half of them in the so-called science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) areas. The share of foreign-born graduates is in many areas close to a third. Doctoral training has become more professional and systematic, with better supervision and support in well-functioning research groups.  Doctoral training aims at combining scientific knowledge creation with generic skills in problem-solving, communication and teamwork. Doctoral students are perhaps the most important part of the research workforce at universities.

Even with today’s global academic labor market, it is obvious that the majority of graduating PhDs have to find employment outside academia, in industry, services or government. On one hand, this has implications to the practice of doctoral studies – to their content and length, and the requirements for the doctoral thesis.  On the other, more attention should be placed to helping fresh PhDs find opportunities in the society.  Unlike in such countries as  Sweden, Germany and Switzerland, the number of PhDs in industry is relatively low in Finland.

The Finnish industry needs strategic renewal, and the young PhDs are a valuable resource to make it happen.  We need to create a platform where fresh PhDs can bring their enthusiasm and creativity to meet the strategic needs of industry.  Companies often have to focus their attention to solving day-to-day  challenges, and can ill afford blue-sky exploration of ideas and foresight work. 

The idea is to  enable young PhDs to carry out basic research arising from companies’ strategic needs with funding from private foundations. This open, “academic” research phase would then be followed by a working period inside the companies (and funded by them). The foundations could form an “Industrial Post-Doc Pool”, similarly to the pool that already funds young post-docs’ research stays at universities abroad.  Match-making is the keyword: making PhDs aware of the societal and industrial challenges, and making companies realize the potential of the newly minted doctors.

Risto Nieminen
Dean, School of Science

  • Published:
  • Updated:
Share
URL copied!

Read more news

Drone image of Otaniemi campus in early December, light covering of snow everywhere, with low sun shining
Campus, University Published:

The origin of the name Otaniemi is a mystery

What gave the university campus area its name?
Sustainability day
Research & Art, University Published:

Sustainability Science Days 2022: Call for Abstracts

Sustainability Science Days 2022:Call for Abstracts
Device
Research & Art Published:

Experiment with turnstiles of single electrons shows way towards new power standard

Researchers at Aalto University propose method of transducing frequency to power
Paper packaging prototypes - miura ori technique. Photo: Valeria Azovskay
Cooperation Published:

Multidisciplinary research project based on origami seeks solutions for industrial needs

A joint project covering the fields of mathematics, engineering and arts is about to start at Aalto, where the aim is to study and develop folding technology for the needs of industry. In addition to Aalto, the project includes VTT as coordinator, and several companies from the forest industry to the machine design and cosmetics brands, such as Stora Enso, Metsä Group, Lumene, Mirka, Elomatic, Anpap, Orfer and Soften. Business Finland granted funding for the Co-Innovation project.