The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is entering into its second year of an assessment of the biomedical workforce. When I posted about it last May, I was concerned about the makeup of the Working Group leading the assessment. Based on their backgrounds, I was skeptical of the group’s ability to assess the biomedical and behavioral research workforce in context. Last fall they issued a request for information to determine what issues stakeholders felt were important to consider, and a relative ranking of those issues.
In late January the NIH issued a report summarizing the comments. They received over 200 comments, with about three-quarters coming from individual respondents (compared to twenty percent from organizations and five percent from NIH staff). While issues identified by individuals and by organizations did not line up precisely in terms of relative rankings, the general priorities were not terribly different. Issues of supply and demand and the Characteristics of the PhD experience were frequently mentioned, Industry Partnerships and Early Education Interventions came in at the bottom of the list.
Commenters believe the biomedical research enterprise is producing more scientists than its workforce can handle, in part because alternative career pathways are not well-integrated into PhD programs and related career training. My initial read of the report suggests that you can substitute agency and discipline names and make much of this report sound like it’s about any number of non-biomedical fields.
The working group is still working on its recommendations. The co-chair of the working group gave no hint of when they might be released.