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Great Expectations

In this month’s cover story, author John Borchardt describes the changes that have taken place since 2008 in priorities for hiring new laboratory employees.

by Pamela Ahlberg
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Pam AhlbergIn this month’s cover story, author John Borchardt describes the changes that have taken place since 2008 in priorities for hiring new laboratory employees. Most significant is that today’s employers, rather than hiring newly graduated scientists and allowing them the time to master the required skills, “expect new hires to begin making meaningful contributions almost immediately.” The reason is that the time and training required to get that new graduate up to speed are luxuries that most cannot afford. “In 1979 young workers received an average of two and a half weeks of training. By contrast, a study last year by the consulting firm Accenture found that only 21 percent of the employees surveyed had received any training at all in the past five years,” says Borchardt. The same trend is reflected in this month’s Salary & Job Satisfaction survey, in which 10 percent fewer respondents said their companies provided training.

For these reasons, “A seasoned candidate who brings a wide variety of skills and experience to the table is going to have an advantage over younger candidates,” says Borchardt. A sentiment likewise echoed in our Salary Survey, in which one percent of this year’s respondents were under 25, while 29 percent were older than 55, “indicating that the baby boomer bulge remains alive and well in today’s lab.”

But lab managers still need ways to identify and retain the best and brightest employees for their labs, be they newbies or veterans. For that, our cover story offers an array of strategies, key among them is to provide a workplace that cultivates and manages talent. As Mark Lanfear tells us in his Science Matters column, “Building an environment where your talent resources feel they are valued will not only build your credibility as an employer but will also serve to attract top talent when it becomes available.”

Whether looking to hire or be hired, there is good and hopeful advice to be found in this month’s Management article, “Career Counseling,” in which the author identifies six key competencies everyone needs in order to roll successfully with career punches and changes, the first one being: Always have a Plan B. Click here to find out what the other five are.

As for technology, this month’s issue presents trends in HPLC columns, IT for gene sequencing, mass spec, UV-Vis spec, and vacuum pumps. But if yours is a cell culture lab, our INSIGHTS supplement this month explains all aspects of this burgeoning area. “Although cell culture is more than 100 years old, it has only been applied to the manufacture of biological drugs for about 25 years. Today mammalian cell culture is the workhorse production platform for most of biotech’s protein therapeutics and increasingly for cell- and virus-based vaccines,” says author Angelo DePalma. This removable supplement, which covers workflows and facilities, equipment, cell culture media, and contamination, will be a welcomed resource for anyone working in this field.

Separate from INSIGHTS, but cell culture-related, is our Technology & Operations article, “Preventing Cell Death," which describes an ultrapure water system that lowers endotoxin levels below the limits necessary to propagate cell lines or cell cultures.

Whether running a cell culture lab, hiring new employees for any kind of lab, looking to advance your career, or purchasing equipment, we’ve got you covered.