Jan 11, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

Recent research using machine learning indicates that one keyword may pivotal to revealing a massive “hidden” job market for graduates with PhDs, according to OpenGov.  That keyword? “PhD.” Here’s a closer look at the project and its findings.

About the Project

Funded by the Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation and Science using raw data from job search company SEEK Limited, researchers harnessed the power of machine learning to analyze thousands of job ads.

The conclusion, according to OpenGov? “The report describes a job ad as a pitch to a potential applicant which outlines the type of work that is required and the type of person that the employer would like to hire. If employers do not use ‘PhD’ as a keyword in a job ad, a simple keyword search will not retrieve all ads aimed at PhD graduates.”

Why It Matters

As more highly skilled PhD students endeavor to leave academia to work in a variety of different industries, the report highlights a disparity: “Australia stands out amongst most developed countries for lack of interest displayed by non-academic employers’ towards PhD graduates,” says OpenGov.  At the same time, many employers are looking for workers with the skills and knowledge found in PhD graduates.

In addition to helping Australian industry recognize the value of PhD hires, these findings can also be used to help universities prepare PhD graduates for fruitful job searches. Explains OpenGov, “From the supply side, Australian universities must do more to prepare PhD graduates for a wider range of workplaces. This will involve changes to the form and content of PhD curriculum, in addition additional co-curricular opportunities. From the demand side, there is a lack of awareness of what skills and capabilities people develop during the PhD and perhaps a lack of trust in the qualification as producing ‘work ready’ employees.”

And the research team suggests that there are more valuable and actionable insights to be found moving forward. Co-researcher Hanna Suominen told OpenGov, “Our researchers will continue to develop the machine into a web portal to support PhD graduates in their search for work. It has the potential to connect PhD graduates with ideal jobs they may not have otherwise come across or considered.”


 Read more about earning your PhD.

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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