Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Benefits of Preparing PhD's for Both Academic and Industry Employment

Meeting of Doctors University of Paris
16th Century "Chants royaux" manuscript
A recent article entitled Where PhDs Work and What they Earn published in Inside Higher Ed highlights the importance of preparing Academics to work outside the traditional halls of higher education. Fostering the skills necessary to help academics to work in industry and academic rolls helps bridge the gap that leads to greater innovation in both worlds. Preparation means providing theoretical and practical knowledge in ways that can be applied to solve real world problems.

One of the complaints of the hallowed halls of higher education is that academics live in a bubble and don't contribute fully to practical problems. While academic jobs may become more difficult to obtain it also becomes possible to shoot three birds with one stone by adjusting higher edu curriculum to formalize industry knowledge, fill industry leadership positions with practitioner scholars, and create more relevant theories for academics to ponder.

Doctoral graduates should be able to take academic knowledge and apply it to the workplace while at the same time borrowing industry knowledge to enhance curriculum; a two way street of development. Each feeds the knowledge of the other by borrowing and creating areas of knowledge transference.

The value of a doctorate degree rises when graduates can apply their intellectual capital to both worlds. The formation of higher knowledge is a reciprocal process of awareness of problem, exploration of the problem, formation of theory/solutions, application of theory for solutions, and the re-adjustment of theory for accuracy. Intermingling of the two worlds creates faster development.

As a bonus, we also might find that the higher pay in industry can lead to higher pay in academia by supporting faculty negotiation power by enhancing options beyond traditional occupational roles. Wages in one industry create spill over effects when one sector must compete with the other such as that which the report indicates in increase pay for faculty in the business, healthcare and engineering fields. Pay, benefits, working conditions, meaningfulness, and environment become important factors in attracting top talent.

The academic world doesn't exist in a bubble and is a dependent contributor to industry and society. Training faculty to take duel roles as practitioner-scholars gives them needed intellectual and financial leverage. Bouncing between the two also enhances both as knowledge and information create spill over effects that force both to adapt. Knowledge and income rise when practical value meets higher knowledge. Connecting industry and higher education becomes a possibility when doctors are prepared to take on dual roles.

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