Is there a shortage of physicists?
Author: sam | Date published: 16/12/19
Candidates with physics degrees are in high demand as the skills are relevant to many industries and roles, consequently some employers are struggling to find the right talent for their team. Do you think there is a shortage of physicists? Are you finding it difficult to source the right candidates for your business?
According to the UK Commission’s Employer Skills Survey 2013 43% of vacancies for professionals working in science, research, engineering and technology are hard to fill due to skills shortages.
Candidates with STEM skills play a pivotal role in developing innovative products and services that can be effectively positioned in world markets. However, the number of enrolments for science subjects in higher education have generally been lower relative to non-science subjects (HESA, 2019).
The boundaries between disciplines, such as natural sciences and informatics, are becoming increasingly blurred. A key implication of this trend is that highly skilled workers with a background in STEM increasingly need to work in multi-disciplinary teams to address business objectives.
Expectations vs. reality
We have found employers hiring physicists are often looking for very specific skills and previous experience relevant to their business. However, with the rate of technological change the number of available candidates with these niche skills are often limited. Employers naturally want the perfect candidate but often there is a need to compromise. Physicists are very capable and have lots of transferable skills, but they may not have all the attributes an employer is looking for, which is why internal training and development is important.
Candidates have more choice than Amazon.co.uk
Since the skills obtained through a physics degree are so transferable and these candidates are highly intelligent, there are a wide number of industries and roles that could be suitable, from roles as a laser physicist or photonics engineer to an electronics engineer, optical engineer, data scientist, software developer, quantum physicist or a machine learning engineer, there are so many choices for candidates looking to grow their career.
As a result of this, employers are not just competing with similar companies when it comes to hiring the best talent in the market, you are competing with a much wider pool of employers. Consequently, employer branding and company reputation is becoming increasingly important to attract candidates with the right skills.
Can educational establishments keep up?
Universities rely on partnerships with businesses to ensure their curriculum matches closely with the needs of the workplace. These partnerships are responsible for valuable mutual learning between universities and businesses, with the exchange of knowledge, processes and best practice developing to mutual advantage and measurable economic gain in the region. However, with technology changing quickly universities need to adapt at equal pace which isn’t always possible due to the structured nature of higher education.
What is the solution?
As an employer looking to grow your team you need to have realistic expectations. Physics candidates are unlikely to be actively applying for new jobs because they don’t need to, other employers are working hard to retain these employees and if candidates are considering a move, they know recruiters/jobs will come to them.
Writing a generic job description and advertising it on the popular job boards is unlikely to yield the results you are hoping for. Putting together a tailored job advert for physicists is vitally important if you are keen to hire directly, however partnering with a specialist recruitment consultant means you can access a much wider talent pool.
While it may be challenging to find talented physicists with your requirements it isn’t impossible, particularly if you are able to compromise and provide necessary training. There are candidates out there, you just need to know where to look.
As well as having access to a wide network of STEM candidates, we can give you a different insight into the candidate market; what their expectations are, who else is hiring, what skills are in high demand etc. as we speak to candidates every day.
Find out more about how we can help you hire physicists, click here.