Employability: what do doctoral graduates offer employers?

In a modern knowledge-based economy, highly educated and skilled people are in great demand. Doctoral graduates are amongst the most highly educated and skilled groups in the workforce. Many go on to use their skills within academia or in research-intensive occupations in industry but many others draw on their research background and skills gained during their doctoral degree in a wide variety of other occupations.

Doctoral graduates offer employers and the labour market a questioning and inquiring attitude, strong analytical and problem-solving skills and the self-confidence to articulate and defend their ideas and approaches. In many cases they also bring personal attributes like independence and resilience, borne of overcoming challenges during doctoral research. The Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF) recognises and describes some of these key attributes.

Many employers, but not all, recognise the particular attributes that people with a doctorate bring to their organisation, especially high-level problem-solving skills, and their determination to find new and better ways to tackle challenges. They can also add to the credibility of an organisation working in certain markets. Some of the skills that employers expect to be strong in doctoral graduates are data analysis, problem-solving, drive/motivation and project management, as well as interpersonal skills.