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Study: Nanotech Hiring Climbs; Talent Lacking

Photonics.com
Feb 2007
NEW YORK, Feb. 7, 2007 -- Companies, universities, governments and economic development groups are "keenly focused" on nanotechnology’s potential to create new products and services -- and the jobs that come with them -- but many are reporting a shortage of "nanotech talent," according to one research firm.

“Companies’ nanotech teams are poised to grow 74 percent by 2008, and today 60 percent of the companies we spoke with feel a shortage of nanotech talent,” said Mark Bünger, director of research at Lux Research Inc.

“Our study found that as nanotechnology moves up the value chain, the proportion of scientists on development teams will shrink to 40 percent, as engineering grows to 25 percent and sales and marketing to 22 percent of future hires.”

It found that corporations directly employed some 5300 “white-coat” nanotech developers at the end of 2006, poised to grow to over 30,000 in the next two years and that nanotechnology indirectly affects tens of thousands of additional jobs in blue-collar roles like manufacturing, a number the US National Science Foundation (NSF) estimates will reach two million within a decade. To estimate whether there will be enough workers with the right skills and experiences to meet this demand, Lux Research surveyed 26 companies active in nanotechnology application development about their hiring plans, priorities and preferences.

Soft skills are critical, according to the report. Despite the technical nature of nanotech work, only 36 percent of respondents said they viewed scientific depth as “very important." Creativity and problem-solving capability were deemed more important, at 60 and 50 percent, respectively. It also found that corporations will source 34 percent of their new people internally and take another 26 percent straight from universities.

"Startups can’t grow if they just shift workers, so they plan to poach 70 percent of their new people from other science-based businesses," Bunger said. "While more and more universities create nanotechnology degree programs, companies are evenly split as to whether they are an advantage or a detractor."

“Companies must make nanotechnology teams as productive as possible, which is not simply a question of hiring more people,” he added. ”They can use the best practices outlined in this report to find and attract talent, make developers’ scientific research faster and more efficient, train various categories of developers and build the best extended team.”

For more information, visit: www.luxresearchinc.com


GLOSSARY
nanotechnology
The use of atoms, molecules and molecular-scale structures to enhance existing technology and develop new materials and devices. The goal of this technology is to manipulate atomic and molecular particles to create devices that are thousands of times smaller and faster than those of the current microtechnologies.
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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