However, difficulty finding a “long term academic position” is not the same thing as difficulty finding a job. Buried in those same articles is the fact that the unemployment rate for physicists (which likely mirrors that of astronomers) is between 1-2%. In contrast, the lab-based biologists and chemists (which are the focus of the articles) are not finding employment at all, or if they do, it’s frequently in a position that makes no use of their technical skills.
The problem in astronomy and physics is therefore not employment, but expectations.
[S]tudents should never be made to feel that they’re failures for not getting a particular flavor of academic position, and should instead always be encouraged to explore other avenues that could use their talents while bringing them greater day-to-day satisfaction.
Ah, someone who gets it. And by gets it, I really mean “agrees with me” and I’m applying a little confirmation bias, but I do find fault with the argument put forth by others that not finding a faculty position is proof (in and of itself) that we have an overabundance of PhDs. And I’m also much more familiar with the lay of the land in physics than with biology or chemistry.
As the post points out, some skills transfer well; technical competence and attention to detail are in wider demand than just the sciences, and I can’t imagine these are not part of biology or chemistry skill sets.