In 1990, the 23rd General Assembly of the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) passed the following resolution:
We live in an era of unprecedented progress in science, but the attraction of science to the younger generation seems to be lessening in some countries. Where these statistics are available, they point to the danger of insufficient human resources in science and technology as the 21st Century opens. ICSU should examine, with other concerned scientific bodies, the magnitude of this problem.
The U.S. National Research Council's (NRC) Committee on International Organizations and Programs (CIOP), which serves as the U.S. National Committee for ICSU, undertook the task of organizing a response to this resolution. CIOP, in cooperation with the NRC's Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel (OSEP), held discussions with the European Commission. These efforts led to the creation of a joint organizing committee to develop the agenda for an international conference on ''Trends in Science and Technology Careers." The conference was held in Brussels, Belgium, on March 28-30, 1993. This volume provides the papers presented at the conference, along with written comments from the chairs and discussants for each conference session.
In preparing the conference, the organizers considered several key themes and trends. They recognized that understanding the factors shaping human resource development in science and in technical fields was essential for formulating effective science and technology (S&T) strategies at the national, regional, and global levels. The continued flow of scientists and engineers into research and related fields to encourage technological innovation was thus in the interest of every nation. Most advanced industrialized countries had monitored student career interests and had taken steps to assure a sustained supply of talented workers. Maintaining and strengthening the infrastructure for studies of the careers of individuals in S&T was critical to the future development of human resource policies. In the past, many international organizations had promoted the exchange of information about scientific opportunities among scientists; in the future, such organizations could play an important role in monitoring and enhancing human resources in S&T, as well as providing policy-relevant advice.
The goals of the conference were to:
gauge the availability of international data or measures of career trends;
assess the research base engaged in studying the careers of scientists and engineers;
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INTRODUCTION In 1990, the 23rd General Assembly of the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) passed the following resolution: We live in an era of unprecedented progress in science, but the attraction of science to the younger generation seems to be lessening in some countries. Where these statistics are available, they point to the danger of insufficient human resources in science and technology as the 21st Century opens. ICSU should examine, with other concerned scientific bodies, the magnitude of this problem. The U.S. National Research Council's (NRC) Committee on International Organizations and Programs (CIOP), which serves as the U.S. National Committee for ICSU, undertook the task of organizing a response to this resolution. CIOP, in cooperation with the NRC's Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel (OSEP), held discussions with the European Commission. These efforts led to the creation of a joint organizing committee to develop the agenda for an international conference on ''Trends in Science and Technology Careers." The conference was held in Brussels, Belgium, on March 28-30, 1993. This volume provides the papers presented at the conference, along with written comments from the chairs and discussants for each conference session. In preparing the conference, the organizers considered several key themes and trends. They recognized that understanding the factors shaping human resource development in science and in technical fields was essential for formulating effective science and technology (S&T) strategies at the national, regional, and global levels. The continued flow of scientists and engineers into research and related fields to encourage technological innovation was thus in the interest of every nation. Most advanced industrialized countries had monitored student career interests and had taken steps to assure a sustained supply of talented workers. Maintaining and strengthening the infrastructure for studies of the careers of individuals in S&T was critical to the future development of human resource policies. In the past, many international organizations had promoted the exchange of information about scientific opportunities among scientists; in the future, such organizations could play an important role in monitoring and enhancing human resources in S&T, as well as providing policy-relevant advice. The goals of the conference were to: gauge the availability of international data or measures of career trends; assess the research base engaged in studying the careers of scientists and engineers;
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review some of the mechanisms designed to attract and sustain student interest in S&T; and identify methods to promote an interest in human resource development among the relevant international organizations. Over 40 participants representing 15 countries, as well as 9 international multilateral organizations, took part in the 2-day invitational conference. The conference was generously hosted in Brussels by Professor Paolo Fasella, Director General for Science, Research, and Development (DGXII) of the Commission of the European Communities. The conference was divided into five sessions, each featuring a panel discussion addressing a major issue. This report identifies and illustrates key contributions of worldwide research on S&T, and of the organizations committed to that research, to the development of policies for creating a strong and competitive workforce. The report reviews a wide range of studies that capture current approaches to the development of human resource policies for S&T in a number of industrialized nations. These include surveys of student attitudes toward S&T careers, intervention programs aimed at increasing the number and quality of individuals working in S&T, and databases designed to monitor the human resource system nationally and internationally. In the two years since the conference was held, some of the studies discussed in the authored papers have concluded, some have made further progress, and new programs have been planned. For example, at its 1993 General Assembly, the ICSU adopted a resolution that has led to an initiative to develop a new global Program in Capacity Building in Science. Although this program is not specifically aimed at S&T careers, it addresses human resource development through achieving a higher level of public understanding of S&T to guide the application of science to the problems facing humanity. The goal of the program is to raise scientific literacy globally. The elements include: (1) establishing a Network for Capacity Building in Science, (2) strengthening primary school science education, (3) overcoming the geographical isolation of scientists, (4) promoting public understanding of science, and (5) presenting the case for science. Although time has passed since the conference was held, the issues at the heart of this report, which were discussed by each of the panels, will continue to provide challenges and opportunities for researchers, statisticians, policymakers, and a wide array of institutions for years to come. These issues are briefly summarized below. Panel 1 Monitoring Career Trends in Science and Technology The first panel's goal was to identify what data and information on human resources collected at the global and national levels reveal about trends in S&T careers. A paper on the work of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) discussed the global level, and a paper about Japan's National Institute for Science and Technology Policy (NISTEP) provided an example of national efforts. The discussion of global data collection revealed that serious problems of data comparability and compatibility must be resolved. A key difficulty was the confusion arising from various definitions of "highly skilled workforce." The OECD, with the active support of the European Community and its statistical branch Eurostat, was addressing these problems in the course of revising its manual on research and development personnel. A number of concerns at the national level emerged from the discussion of the statistics and data collected by Japan's NISTEP. Among the issues were the demographic evidence of an aging population and the potential shortage of young people to maintain the skilled workforce. Changing attitudes toward S&T among the younger generation and the need to diversify the scientific and engineering personnel supply by including women, older people, and non-Japanese intensified these problems, and the paper presented a number of models for addressing them. During the commentary, the discussant noted that common problems related to comparability, specificity, periodicity, and structure existed in the collection of data at both national and global levels. The ultimate objective of modeling the factors that influence career choice, it was argued, should be to forecast the impact of these factors on the availability of S&T personnel as a basis for developing policies to affect the supply. Creating such models, so that the data could be useful for policy formation, was a serious challenge, however.
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Panel 2 Analyzing Trends in S&T Careers: The Longitudinal Approach Theories of human development and aging have provided a framework for understanding how an individual moves into and through a career in S&T. European scientists have taken the lead in developing the theory, research, and analytical methods for a longitudinal approach to career analysis. The goals of this session were to summarize the advances in research, identify resources for longitudinal data surveys, examine how such surveys reflect cultural differences, and explore ways to make data compatible. The panel provided new information on the use of longitudinal research in understanding. trends in S&T careers. The first technical paper proposed a demographic model using modified Markov processes for studying how people become scientists or engineers. The paper presented a number of observations about age cohorts drawn from different longitudinal surveys in the United States. The analysis of the career pathway showed that the number of individuals in science and engineering decreased as the cohort aged, and that female representation in the U.S. science and engineering pool dropped significantly between ages 17 and 19. The second technical paper took a regional view, based on a case study of the less developed countries of the European Community (Spain, Portugal, and Greece), to address the conceptual problems of understanding the links between human resources and job availability. The regional study of human capital required the consideration of the complex relationships among education, employment, and economic policy. The analysis was difficult because of the diversity and complexity of the indicators that needed to be considered, and because of the generally insufficient data available. A suggestion for reconsidering methods emerged from the critique of these papers. The importance of longitudinal measurement in the study of career choice, and the need to build theories and models that reflect the changing population, were stressed. In monitoring the flow of young people into and out of the S&T careers, it was critical to identify the points when significant numbers of students left the field, and to study the reasons for those decisions. In the United States, for example, attention had recently focused on the impact of introductory college-level science courses on how students viewed science. A macro-level model like that proposed in the first technical paper, with appropriate definitions and adequate data, together with comparative demographic or flow models, would be helpful in understanding the dynamics of career choice in the context of economic development. Panel 3 Analyzing Trends in S&T Careers: Factors Determining Choice The goal of the third panel was to examine factors influencing individual decisions to pursue studies in S&T. These factors included opportunities to learn about what scientists and engineers do, the sociocultural environment, the quality of science teaching in schools, and the attractiveness and reward structure of a career in S&T. The evidence suggested that, more often than not, choices were based on a series of events and influences along the decision path rather than on a single causal factor or event. The first technical paper proposed a sequential dependency model, which described the human decision process in terms of a series of interdependent and converging phases. The policy goals of the model were to maximize the desired number of entrants into S&T and to encourage the flowering of the best talent. Recognizing the inherent difficulty of human resource planning, the model emphasized institutional improvements and the provision of a flexible and creative alternative support system for students. To examine further the factors influencing the choice of an S&T career, the second technical paper discussed current research on science education. The research suggested that the public image of science and of the role that science played in a technological society might be creating barriers to student interest. Science education needed to reach beyond the problems of what abilities were required, what specific competencies were taught, and what standards needed to be achieved to address the problem of general attitudes in society. Studies in recent years showed that ability in science played a role but was not the decisive factor in leading qualified students to an S&T career. Attitudes and motivations anchored in a particular cultural context were often more important. The degree of achievement-orientation, the existence of role models,
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and the perception of science as a "difficult" subject were all important factors. The role of gender was the focus of an increasing number of studies because participation in S&T varied greatly between males and females. The implications of this research for education and science policy were not straightforward. For example, there may have been an epistemic problem arising from how knowledge in science was acquired, compared to other disciplines such as the humanities and arts. In the discussion following the presentation of technical papers, some participants expressed the view that the relationship between education and jobs was critical and this had been severely affected by the recent economic events. To appeal to coming generations, S&T careers should offer a degree of stability and continuity. Surveys suggested that S&T degrees were perceived by some young people as too specialized to permit broader science career opportunities, and too demanding to undertake without reasonable assurance of employment. If governments and corporations wanted more skilled manpower, it was suggested, they needed to structure the occupational world to respond to these problems. Panel 4 Utilizing Points of Intervention to Enhance and Sustain Interest in S&T Careers The S&T career has been characterized as a series of decision points along which an individual may opt in or out of the career path. Carefully designed intervention efforts could influence the probability of an individual making the transition from one step to another. Three critical elements were noted: (1) the competence of teachers and faculty who stimulate and sustain student interest in S&T careers; (2) the equality of access to S&T careers; and (3) the professional competence of those who have entered the S&T workforce, for example, "the role model." The goal of Panel 4 was to explore mechanisms that affect critical decision points along the S&T career path, drawing upon the models of Japanese and European systems. In Japan the National Institute for Educational Research (NIER) was leading a major educational reform effort. This was the third such reform, beginning with the Meiji Restoration and the opening of Japan to the West. The first reform effort adopted European and U.S. education models, but these rapidly evolved into a new national system tailored to specific Japanese needs. The second major reform took place after World War II, when the Japanese adopted a system strictly modeled on the U.S. approach to determining grade levels and identifying the number of years spent at each level (e.g., six-eight years at the primary level, four years at the secondary level). The goals of NIER emphasized research on educational policies and practices, school curriculum and teaching methods for a nationwide system, and cooperation, both nationally and internationally, among educational research institutions. Particular efforts were made to create a competent teacher workforce and to strengthen the linkage between the requirements of private industry and the development of human resources. In the European S&T context, it had long been appreciated that a nation could augment its competitive advantage through the skill and knowledge of its S&T workforce. To create highly qualified personnel, governments had expanded higher education based on the principles of equality of opportunity and, more recently, equality of access for women and minority groups. The under representation of women in S&T careers was seen as a waste of both intellectual and economic resources. Questions about how to make science education more relevant to diverse communities were also examined. The subsequent discussion pointed out that educational policies needed to be reassessed in light of the current and anticipated shortages of skilled personnel in Europe. Continued training for the current S&T workforce was another important issue. Creating networks within Europe was viewed as an important process for developing the careers of scientists and engineers. Research conferences to provide a framework for scientific debate were essential. A number of examples of networks and conferences, particularly those intended to create links among young scientists, were discussed. The discussant commented that the two papers illustrated how changes in education and economic policies could ensure that those entering S&T careers would be assisted through the process and into employment. Successful intervention efforts were predicated on the occurrence of natural breaks—matriculation, education to first employment, and movement from one sector of employment to another. Special "at risk" groups, such as women and ethnic minorities, had been identified in a number of
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countries and targeted programs were being implemented to increase their skills. Studies of career outcomes were essential for assessing the quality and success of these intervention efforts. The remaining challenge was to link the theories of career patterns to policy formation and evaluation. Panel 5 Influencing S&T Career Trends: The Role of International Organizations Panel 5 was designed as a roundtable discussion with presenters focused on the role of their organizations in enhancing the pool of scientific and technical personnel. Representatives of national and international organizations were asked to synthesize views of the previous panels and suggest new directions that might be adopted for follow-up action. Participants were also asked to consider the following questions: What lessons could be drawn from the discussions of the quality of data on scientific and technical personnel? How could the analysis of career choice be utilized effectively in structuring programs in scientific and technical education? What future actions and mechanisms should be considered by both researchers and organizations to further advance understanding of human resources in S&T? Participants acknowledged that the drive for more and better data and research, as presented in the first question, varied from country to country and from region to region. Improved communication among data specialists, social scientists, and educational researchers could be highly effective in informing policy on human resource issues. This was particularly the case for the advanced data work of the OECD. The second question generated a variety of responses. Some organizations with established programs for examining human resources in S&T, such as the European Community and the European Science Foundation, provided evidence that programs had been attempting to integrate some of the issues into their long-range planning. Others, with more traditional programs, such as the Third World Academy of Sciences and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, were challenged by the broader issues of the science career path. In examining the relationship between lifelong learning and continued productivity, the partnership between education and industry emerged as a potential key factor. The third question, which attempted to identify future actions and mechanisms, provided an opportunity to consider both the limits and the prospects of advancing the understanding of human resources in S&T. Participants noted that the scientific and technical communities were common stakeholders in the development of these resources. At present, however, the role of science as a factor in economic development, although clearly important, was not fully understood. More complete consideration of human resources in S&T required improved qualitative monitoring and continued nurturing of research on the science career process, supported by partnerships with organizations and industry. As a whole, the conference highlighted steps that are needed to build, monitor, and sustain the pool of talented individuals who will advance S&T, whether locally or globally. Although the conference focused mostly on European, North American, and Japanese concerns and experiences, it is hoped that the analysis and ideas presented, and the dialogue forged between interested international organizations, will stimulate regional assessments concerned with problems in capacity building in the developing countries, as well as encourage further data and information sharing and consensus building in the industrialized nations to inform human resource policies.
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