The SUPA Graduate School is aware of the importance of researchers being employable in sectors beyond Higher Education. Only 18% of post-docs aspire to an academic career (Vitae, 2016), and only about 6% of PhD students will go on to have an academic career all the way to Professor level (various sources discuss this controversial figure here), meaning that an academic career should be considered as the alternative career choice, not the default, following a PhD.
We require our students to undertake 40hrs of advanced specialist training and 20hrs of professional development training in the first two years of their doctorate. They are then free to do more than this, undertaking summer schools and university-led training through the ideals of researcher development. We also encourage the students to undertake activities beyond their research to broaden their skills and knowledge, such as attending conferences, doing public engagement and outreach, and we run specific events to support the students in considering their career journey.
Each year we run a Careers Event, which brings together a diverse group of people who have all had a different career following a PhD in physics. Our current students have the opportunity to speak to them all in order to help shape their thinking for their future, consider what they want in a job, and what they need to do to be employable in that sector or role. We also provide CV writing advice at the event.
SUPA has strong links to industry, culminating in adding a course on 'Industry Skills' in 2018. This came from conversations with our industry networks, telling us what skills they felt their PhD graduate employees were missing or would benefit from. Topics such as intellectual property, product line management, risk management and decision making skills were covered, by industry partners such as NPL, Marks & Clerk, Coherent, Thales and Optos.
Careers information and guidance can be obtained at the individual SUPA University's careers advisory services.
Job sites which may be of interest: