Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Age distributions at FMI and the private sector

I've noticed that FMI, unlike a lot of US counterpart research laboratories, is dominated by younger scientists. Some of these people are even in charge of some pretty big projects. These may be people who only have a M.S. degree, which tends to be the default degree at Finnish universities (unlike the US where it is the bachelor's degree). There are few white-haired old guys running the place. This makes FMI a fresh working environment.

In Finland, there is a lot of pressure to create PhDs and build the private sector. The success of Nokia (a Finnish company accounting for 4% of the GDP and 25% of exports) seems to have fostered the concept that the continued success of the private sector will bring Finland incredible wealth.

Unfortunately, there is the feeling of many in the government that trimming down the size of the government and dumping people on the private sector is a good thing. Lesson from the US: We tried that...all it does is put more pressure on the government budgets. It is frustrating to see our laboratory in Oklahoma have to hire computer support people from a private sector company with all its overhead when these people already worked for the laboratory in the first place. Time will tell if Finland goes the same way as the US with the pressure on the budgets.

But, they will get to say that the number of people in government is smaller, even if the work of the government is done mostly by private-sector employees at twice the cost.


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