Underemployed with the Government

I am writing this post on my partner’s behalf.

My partner is a very well educated and accomplished person.   He was able to speak two languages and knew some English before immigrating here fifteen years ago; however, he wouldn’t have considered himself fluent in English at that time.  He carries out research on topics in which, for many reasons, our government should be very interested.

He completed a doctorate and post-doc with the government, and due to a lack of funding for jobs, he wasn’t able to secure full time employment.  As a result, he continued to work on post-doc funding for far too long.  After two years into his post-doc, his supervisor was scrambling to fund it ($20K-$30/year).  He was asked by management to become a citizen under the pretext that it would make the process of obtaining full-time employment “faster”.  At one point, he was told by a director, that it would take less time to hire him if he was “Chinese”.

Managers talked a lot about creating a position for him, but no one ever got around to actually doing it.  The best he could do was to start a consulting business and work on contract.  Managers were happy to keep renewing his contracts, since he was doing good work. He was even putting their names on his research publications.

Also, during his time on contract, he was overlooked for full-time employment in another federal agency; he watched other people with the same qualifications and less experience obtain full time employment within newly created positions, and he completed tasks, including translation of government communications, for free.

A few years ago, my partner wrote a four-hour exam and completed a two-hour interview (with another test) to qualify himself to be in a group of people who may later be called upon to work for the government.  If he was ever called to work (this obviously still has not happened), the position he would fill would still be far below his level of qualification.

The reason that I am writing this post, is that, just this week, the government decided to post an ad for an even lower-tiered position than the one for which he is pre-qualified.  He is waiting to see whether he will have to write another exam for it.

I read a lot about college graduates becoming disillusioned with their job prospects; however, when you spend many years completing a doctorate and post-doc, and spend many more years experiencing underemployment, that’s much worse.  Funding for scientific research (and subsequently research positions, especially in our country) continues to  be sorely limited.  I suppose it’s best for everyone to become computer programmers or MBAs.

It’s why we’re screwed.

Okay, we’re not completely screwed.  The world is a big place, and when the right opportunity comes up elsewhere, we will jump on it.  The waiting is the hard part.


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