Inside Higher Ed reports that the National Institutes of Health yesterday announced a new panel to study the “future of the biomedical research workforce.” The group appears to be looking at some of the right questions, such as the size of the workforce and the types of positions that would allow people to advance their careers as they advance science. As Inside Higher Ed notes, however, it is “dominated by academic researchers and administrators,” who may, consciously or unconcsiously, have vested interests in the current pyramid system of training. It includes one expert in careers and technology, but none of the researchers who have long studied the arrangements that have created the current career crisis for young scientists.
To see what a difference the composition of a panel can make, check out two reports on science workforce originally published in the same year (2005), the highly publicized Rising Above the Gathering Storm, which popularized the idea of a scientist shortage, and the much more realistic and lesser known Bridges to Independence, which objectively examined the causes of the glut.
Anyway, here’s hoping that this new panel digs deep and thinks hard.