How important is it to know the chemistry in finance

Chemists can choose their job

A positive message for young people comes from the chemical industry: The prospects on the job market for chemists are excellent again. "Chemists looking for a job are spoiled for choice," emphasizes Stefan Marcinowski, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Fonds der Chemischen Industrie. So there are good opportunities for all those who are about to finish their studies.

In the past few years, the chemical industry has increasingly hired young scientists and engineers - most of them chemists. In 1998 there were 620 and in 1999 even 680 university graduates. For comparison: the long-term average is around 500 graduates per year.

According to Marcinowski, this positive development has two main reasons. On the one hand, the graduates benefit from the economic upturn in the chemical industry. On the other hand, there is now a more diverse range of jobs for chemists. They are not only qualified to work in research and development, but also for jobs in environmental protection, public relations, advice and consulting, media, patents and increasingly also in finance. And they are being courted by the chemical industry and other branches of industry as well as by consulting firms, for example. The latter sometimes offer such high entry-level salaries that the chemical industry can neither or will not keep up.

2196 chemists received their doctorate in 1999. The first step into professional life known from 1819 graduates. According to the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (GDCh), which regularly collects this data, 35 percent found a first job in the chemical industry and 18 percent in the rest of the economy. The others went abroad after completing their doctoral theses or were preparing for their university careers. Only nine percent of the graduates registered as unemployed, half as many as three years earlier. A total of 4,350 chemists were registered as unemployed in the past year, two years earlier the figure was 5650 - the long-term unemployed accounted for the largest proportion.

A doctorate is still essential for tasks in research; However, it is no longer absolutely necessary in marketing, sales or public relations. With the reform of the chemistry course ("Würzburg model"), the chemistry courses will be more diversified and modular. For example, in addition to the doctoral program, combined training to become a business chemist is possible, or an application-oriented diploma program, for example with a focus on construction chemistry or environmental chemistry.

The study reform is intended to help degrees without a doctorate to be more valid than before. There is still no concrete experience, as the first graduates of these new diploma courses will start looking for jobs in 2002 at the earliest. The chemical industry expects that university graduates will have good to very good chances on the job market. It remains to be seen how the career opportunities and salaries of young employees without a doctorate will develop in concrete terms. Overall, however, the aim is to give young people who are not completing a doctorate "qualified exit opportunities" from studying chemistry.

However, there is currently competition for potential chemistry doctoral candidates. Not only are the alternative diploma courses mentioned, but also chemistry professors are interested in the young scientists who want to do a doctorate with them due to the sharp decline in the number of students. In addition, companies, especially start-up companies that cooperate with universities, offer graduated chemists the opportunity to complete their doctoral theses as part of a company's research project.

A degree in natural sciences with a doctorate currently offers very good prospects for a job. The increasing start-ups of high-tech companies offer particularly fascinating perspectives. Highly talented scientists with a feel for realizable ideas and a sense of entrepreneurial opportunities and risks set up small start-up companies.

At a scientific symposium organized by the Fonds der Chemischen Industrie in Berlin at the beginning of October on the occasion of its 50th anniversary, fascinating fields of activity for natural scientists became clear. Company founders of start-up companies, all of them chemists or biochemists, underlined the high proportion of scientifically highly qualified employees in their companies. Carsten Henco explained that in his company Evotec BioSystems AG, founded in 1993, 78 of the 234 employees had doctorates. The extremely interdisciplinary work in the company is the source of innovation and requires a high proportion of scientifically qualified "lateral thinkers". His company alone plans to hire 20 more chemists.

In another company, hte AG - active in catalyst development since May 1999 - the proportion of scientists and engineers with a doctorate is similarly high. Here, too, as the company's founder Professor Ferdi Schüth explains, there are seven vacancies. The examples show how good the market for university graduates is in start-up companies - and not just in the life science sector.