"The supply and demand of doctoral scientists and engineers in Ireland and consequences for funding"
This three-month research project aims to build on work already undertaken by CISC on behalf of the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) in order to provide a policy tool for the Council to monitor quantitatively recent trends in, and provide forecasting scenarios related to the relative balance between the demand and supply of doctoral scientists and engineers in Ireland.
The principal task are as follows:
1. The Supply Side
The work to date indicates partial data availability and difficulties in comparability in respect of the following areas, which needs to be addressed more fully in this phase of the project:
Historic student enrollments, graduation rates, transfer rates to postgraduate studies, and completion rates, first destinations by discipline, level of award, gender
Historic stocks of students and graduates by discipline, level of award, gender
The relationship between stocks and flows, along with migration data, taken together provides a picture of the range of sources from which the pool of career researchers may be drawn.
The coverage of the data sets needs to be consistent across institutions (e.g. ITs + universities) and type of programme (full vs. part-time)
2. The Demand Side
Similar issues of comparability and consistency apply in relation to mapping the demand side, both as a means of monitoring trends to date and of providing inputs to forecast scenarios, in relation to the following areas:
Employment of doctoral scientists/engineers/researchers by sector (Higher Education, Government, Private Sector with research functions distinguished separately)
Relationships between the research intensity of activity (e.g. output in the private sector) and employment of researchers
3. Adjustment Mechanisms
Little consideration has so far been given to the nature of the adjustment mechanisms which operate to bring supply and demand in this market into balance. In addition to existing data on salary levels by discipline, some survey/interview work might be helpful in throwing light on the mechanisms at work here (apart from wage adjustment-operating with long time lags-we can usefully explore e.g. the substitution of non-research-intensive for research intensive work, with a view to benchmarking this against the policy aim of a knowledge-based economy.)
4. Structures for the career researcher
Work of a qualitative nature (principally by desk research and interviews) needs to be undertaken in order to better frame Ireland's relative standing vis-à-vis appropriate structures for career researchers over the typical life-cycle.
The principal outputs of this project will be:
A database of demand and supply historically in Ireland, benchmarked against comparator countries
A quantitative tool which permits the running of simple forecast simulation for various possible future scenarios, determined by a few key parameters (e.g. funding of PhDs, overall economic growth, success in attracting FDI and broad demographics).
A paper providing a commentary on some key scenarios in relation to demand and supply judged of policy relevance and a discussion of policy consequences in terms of public funding.
A paper outlining a benchmarking exercise in respect of the institutional structures for career researchers in Ireland.