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PhDs’ Early Career in France – Eight career trajectories

For those who obtained their PhDs in 2010, research remains the main opening. If they embark on careers in public-sector research, their trajectories during the first five years of their working lives are synonymous with periods of temporary employment of varying lengths. These trajectories contrast sharply with those of PhDs who seek employment in the private sector at a very early stage in their careers.

Eight career trajectories

The longitudinal dimension of the Génération surveys enables us to study the PhDs’ career trajectories over the rst ve years of their working lives. On the basis of the data analyses, eight typical trajectories can be identified.

Three of them are linked to public-sector research positions; they account for 42% of the PhDs who obtained their degrees in 2010. The rst (20%) is made up of PhDs who quickly obtained stable employment in public-sector or academic research. In almost 75% of cases, entry to this sector took place before December 2011. Those who had had a doc- toral contract and those who had published while completing their PhDs had more chance of nding themselves in this category. The second category (11%) is made up of trajectories characterised by de- ferred access to public-sector research. The PhDs in this category managed to obtain stable employment from the autumn of 2012 onwards, having spent on average 23 months in temporary jobs in public-sector research. The third category (11%) is made up of PhDs who had mainly experienced unstable employment in public-sector research. They had spent 46 of the 55 months in the observation period in temporary jobs and 30% of them had never had any other type of job. The women were less likely to nd themselves on this trajectory. At a time when some of them might have been having children, their trajectories tended to include breaks in the sequence of xed-term jobs in public-sector research.

Two categories are characterised by early-career non-research jobs in the public sector. The PhDs in category 4 (8%) obtained stable jobs of this type at an early stage in their careers. These individuals had spent 45 months on average in such jobs and 45% of them had been in the same job since obtaining their doctorates. Those who had not been in receipt of any funding were more likely than the others to nd themselves in this category. Those in category 5 (6%) were on trajectories characterised by unstable employment in non-research jobs in the public sector.

The final category (13%) comprises career trajectories characterised by disengagement and instability in employment. These PhDs had, on average, been unemployed, inactive or in training/back in education for 23 months and in temporary employment for 28 months, regardless of the sector under consideration.

Those PhDs who had quickly obtained stable research jobs in the private sector were better paid five years into their working lives and were not worried about their futures (cf. table in Box 3). They were fairly happy with their situations and only 28% of them believed their career trajectories to date had been difficult. The salaries earned by those who had been quick to obtain stable, non-research jobs in the public sector put them among the most highly paid of their generation. Nevertheless, 42% of them thought they were employed below their level of competence. In public-sector research, the time taken to obtain stable employment determined the level of both pay and satisfaction. Those who had taken the longest time to obtain research jobs in the public sector were a little less satis ed. Those with the most unstable trajectories were the most anxious about their futures.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at PhDs’ early career trajectories strongly differentiated / Training and employment / publications / accueil – Céreq – Centre d’études et de recherches sur les qualifications

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