CAPS-ACSP is excited to officially release the 2016 Canadian National Postdoc Survey Report and Executive Summary. The survey and report were funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

The survey covered a wide range of topics, including demographics, salary and benefits, training needs, and career goals and collected responses from approximately 2100 current or former Canadian postdocs, including international postdocs working in Canada and Canadian postdocs working abroad. The inclusion of ‘past postdocs’ (people who finished a postdoc in Canada in the last 4 years) was a first, and provided valuable data regarding labour outcomes for postdocs trained in Canada. In addition, the 2016 Survey Report includes comparisons with data from the CAPS-ACSP 2009 and 2013 national surveys, providing valuable longitudinal data.

The report highlights 3 major themes that emerged from the survey data:

  1. Canada’s Performance on the Global Postdoctoral Stage

The attraction of highly qualified postdocs may be influenced by Canada’s performance on the global postdoctoral stage. The unique experiences of Canadian postdocs are compared with the postdoctoral experience reported in other countries. The 2016 Survey findings indicate a need for better support for international postdocs, improvements to postdocs’ everyday well-being, such as compensation, benefits, and employment status, and new strategies to address satisfaction with postdoctoral training.

  1. Positioning Postdocs as Drivers of Innovation and Discovery

Positioning postdocs for careers that drive innovation and discovery in Canada is integral to our knowledge-driven economy. Postdocs need more information on the range of possible career paths and more support for career development. Significant numbers of postdocs leave Canada for employment after their tenure. To retain highly qualified postdocs for research careers in Canada, strategies are needed to transition postdocs into a broad range of careers paths.

  1. The Changing Profile of Canadian Postdocs

The trend towards more years spent in postdoctoral appointments has changed the demographic profile of Canadian postdocs. In particular, there is a shift in the age distribution of postdocs, with more in their mid to late thirties, and fewer in their late twenties and early thirties. The older cohort of postdocs experiences significant workplace stress due to life/work balance issues, lack of family-oriented benefits, and low salaries. Measures to address compensation and workplace mental health are needed in the short and long term to ensure the well-being of Canadian postdocs.

Based on these themes, the report includes recommendations aimed at optimizing support and training of postdocs to help ensure Canada’s position as a global leader in innovation and discovery in the future.

Institution-level analyses of 2016 Survey data are possible under certain conditions. For more information or to request such an analysis, please click here.

Any questions, comments or concerns should be directed to survey@caps-acsp.ca.