The state of Bachelor level education

10 January 2015 - Surveys

You may have missed it: an ambitious survey on the so-called skills gap in Bachelor level education as published in the Journal of Chemical Education (DOI). What do chemical companies think of Bachelor level education? There is some interesting data to be found. For example for organic chemists in chemical industry the top three chemical reactions used are organometallics, esterification and Sn2 reactions. Compare this the the top three chemical reactions taught at university: electrophilic aromatic substitution and reductions with hydrogen or metal hydrides. Esterification is in sixth place. Chemical industry apparently is not ready for microscale chemistry otherwise a popular topic in academics. In terms of chemical techniques industry stresses the importance of extraction and filtration but in education the number one asset is recrystallisation. The top three instruments used in chemical industry are HPLC, NMR and the humble Ph meter. And finally, what would you think are the most important hiring factors? Grade point average comes at a measly number 5 well after interpersonal skills (1), team work (2), undergraduate research (3) and internship experience (4). These data possibly reflect the regrettable standard practice in industry that the actual hiring is done by human resource departments with their misguided socio-psychological doctrines rather than by the chemical peers. Good news for students though, please carry on partying.