The Meaning of Doctorate Holders for Human Capital Development of Nations
Given the constantly high demand for skilled workers in professions and industries around the world, national governments strive for developing and implementing comprehensive and sustained policy measures to develop human potential of countries. This is especially done by educating people towards tertiary graduates and most recently by enforcing doctoral education and training. The aim of these initiatives is to make highly qualified graduates available to the labor market with the ambition to achieve and maintain sustainable competitiveness of the national labor force (OECD 2011). There is consensus that if countries want to develop and maintain competencies and capacities for science, technology and innovation the education and training system needs to be strengthened at all its levels.
The career paths of Russian doctorates are explored based on three types of mobility: inter-sectoral, intra-sectoral and international mobility. The project focuses on two major interlinked issues: 1) mobility and internationalization, 2) skills and motivations for research career.
The career trajectories of doctoral holders are addressed in terms of career employment and effects on productivity (publications, patents, salary). This analysis is complemented by a second major issue, which aims to understand the role of motivations, experiences, professional shifts and other social phenomena in decision-making processes concerning career paths, and the decisions of opting for one type of mobility over the other, when mobile.
The study of Russian doctorate holders confirmed the main trend of modern R&D system, namely the intensification of international contacts and cooperation at all levels: individual, institutional and intergovernmental. The second major issue aims to understand the role of motivations, experiences, professional shifts and other social phenomena in decision-making processes concerning career paths, and the decisions of opting for one type of mobility over the other, when mobile.
Most current studies of highly-skilled personnel argue that the intrinsic personal motivation is their main feature and this motivation has a non-linear connection with external management actions. In order to attract scientists to the sector of research and development, as well as to maintain the competitiveness of national science, a special environment must be created, which will encourage a high level of self-motivation among researchers. An analysis of motivation patterns of researchers provided in this paper is based on data from the international project, «Careers of Doctorate Holders», (CDH) and its Russian counterpart, «Monitoring survey of Highly Qualified R&D Personnel». One of the goals was to investigate the stability and variability of researcher’s motivation during the different periods of a career, such as professional choice, current work activity and a hypothetical situation of a job change.
The eight most common patterns of motivation were identified and they can be considered as the basic motivational structures of researchers. Most of these patterns include a focus on the creative and innovative nature of scientific work. The second important component is the independence and relative autonomy, which is typical for research activity. Economic motives are rarely important when choosing an academic career; however, they play an important instrumental role in the actual scientific work, since an appropriate material base is required for the successful achievement of a researcher’s professional goals. A hypothetical situation of a job change, including moving abroad (for a long or limited time) also shows the priority of internal personal motives over external ones, which are associated with the material conditions.
The opportunity for professional and personal achievements plays the role of a trigger for the high-level motivation of R&D personnel. The main drivers of research motivation are self-realization, improvement of skills and competences, therefore the professional environment must be organized properly to promote the advancement of intellectual workers. Management based primarily on the external rewards may even reduce personal motivation, since it transforms people’s natural enthusiasm and interest to only material goods. The obtained research results give us reason to argue that the Russian scientific policy agenda must include the creation and maintenance of adequate conditions in which research potential can be fully realized and where the personal reputation of the scientist will be recognized.
The paper provides an overview of modern concepts of researchers’ mobility and migration, including concepts "brain drain" and "brain circulation". The Mobility is considered as one of the most important driver of research career on academic and nonacademic labor markets. Using the data from the empirical study of Russian doctorate holders, the paper shows the main trends in international and domestic (intrasectoral and inersectoral) mobility and the impact that mobility has on the career opportunities of young scientists. Mobility rates of Russian doctorate holders are compared with those obtained in the international project "Careers of Doctorate Holders " (OECD, Eurostat, UNESCO Institute for Statistics). The results indicate that the main trends inherent in the Russian academic labour market are similar to those in the European and global labour markets. The findings of study indicates that mobile Russian researchers are more demanded in the national labor market, and are also involved in the "synchronous mobility", when the scientist can have multiple affiliations and work simultaneously in several countries.
The development of information technologies and rapid growth in the volume of accumulated data makes it necessary to develop new scientific approaches, technologies and methods for collecting, processing and storing information. Digitalization has significantly affected people employed in science and technology: the ability to work with large amounts of information, the knowledge of statistics, and the ability to correctly publish research results became crucially important. For researchers the possession of digital skills signifies the confident use of new data analysis tools and implementation of new technologies.
Research practices and competencies of Russian doctorate holders are examined within the framework of the project “Monitoring survey of Highly Qualified R&D Personnel” (National Research University Higher School of Economics, 2010-2019). One of the objectives of the project was to assess the readiness of Russian researchers for digital transformation and to found out to what extent modern digital technologies have taken over the activities of Russian Doctorate holders. It was analyzed whether Russian scientists are familiar with modern digital terminology, whether they apply modern data processing tools in practice and whether they are ready to improve own digital skills.
The sample included the total of 2061 Russian Doctorate holders, representing all fields of science, and employed in the academic sector (research institutes and universities), as well as in industrial and service sector companies.
The professional activity of most Russian Doctorate holders is associated with the regular use of information technologies. Among the surveyed PhD holders, 85% reported that they regularly use computers and the Internet, another 10% use them periodically. But scientific work involves not only basic computer skills, but also advanced data analysis tools. Our results show that less than half of Russian Doctorate holders are aware of modern digital technologies, except for Big Data Analysis. Moreover, a number of digital tools and technologies are well-known, but have not yet found widespread practical application.
The “digital outlook” can come from the general erudition of the Doctorate holder or from the practical experience of using various digital tools: researchers can be clearly divided into “abstractly informed” and “practitioners”. Employees of research institutes, who are more aware of the meaning of digital terminology, use new digital technologies much less frequently than their colleagues from universities and the non-academic sector. A similar situation is observed when comparing age groups: while the youngest scientists are more often aware of the meaning of digital terms, middle-aged and older scientists, if they know the digital technologies, also quite often use them in practice.
Every third Doctorate holder in Russia at least occasionally uses Big Data analysis, every fourth – Data Mining, User interface design, Cloud and distributed computing, every fifth – Text Mining, Machine Learning, Applied Mathematical Optimization.
The use of particular digital technologies varies according to the type of organization: User Interface Design is more often practiced outside the academic sector, while Big Data Analysis and Machine Learning are more actively used by Doctorate holders employed in research institutes and universities. The biggest number of employees who deal with Mobile Application Development appeared in the research Institutes.
The most advanced digital users are those who specialized in natural sciences, engineering sciences, social sciences, and mathematics; PhD holders in agriculture are the least informed.
A significant part of Russian scientists already have experience in improving their digital skills by taking part in various computer courses. Over the last 3 years, every fifth Doctorate holder (18.9%) attended computer courses. However, emphasizing digital skills, it is important not to forget about the importance of soft and hard skills, that employers expect from researchers.