My issue with a vocational programme is that I think (a) a lack of a broad theoretical background is a disadvantge for any chemist regardless of their specialisation, and (b) practical skills for any given position in industry are best taught by that industry. A chemist from a more theory-based background can be effectiviely taught practical skills in industry. In contrast, industry is not the best place to catch up on theory. Get the balance wrong and a vocational degree could leave you limited to more technician-like roles.
I agree with you about the need for theory a 100 % . A chemist should at least be aware of the essential theories that make up the respective fields, this is essential when one comes across a problem which requires more than one type of interpretation to solve it.
But how does the industry separate one who has versed himself or herself well with theory versus one who hasn't? The thing is they don't really pay attention to the gpa, as long as one has a decent gpa, this factor is ruled out in most cases. If they need a stellar scientist then they recruit one who has already had success in research while in school. As for the rest of us, especially those of us at entry level, the only credential that matters is revealed by the questionWhat skillsets can you bring into this company?
People at Bachelors level don't have extensive experience with skillsets, especially in analytical instrumentation. So who actually acquires these " entry level positions " ? From oversees. So my point is to that a degree is needed which is devised especially for people who simply want to obtain a Bachelors degree for obtaining a modest stable job in the industry. There needs to be some level of correspondence between academia and industry.
Academia - Yes , we have so and so here who has been trained extensively in performing the basic organic synthesis routines and we have certified him or her on this skill.
Industry - That's great, he or she would be a big help in so and so's lab.
What usually happens is this
Industry - Do you have experience with analytical instrumentation? Do you have experience in organic synthesis? Do you have experience in method development?
Graduate - Actually, I have had such experience in my chemistry lab in school, I'm learned in the theory behind these methods and am confident that I can become proficient with them quickly.
Industry - How many months have you had experience working with so and so instrumentation in these labs?
Graduate - Actually, it was only for one lab session, we had to employ quantum mechanics and an FTIR to find the bond length of gaseous Acetylene.
Industry - Yeah... Thank you for your time, we should be contacting you within the next few days.
Man from India - Sir, I have two years till I obtain my Bachelors, yet I have spent 12 hours a day routinely performing these so and so routines at a local chemical factory. I have these sores all over my body to prove it.
Industry - You're hired.
The problem is that industry believes that the people oversees are more skilled. Grades are trivial, the moral of the story here is that industry is not open minded unless hiring for a superstar, otherwise they want to know affirmatively what concrete skillsets one can bring to the company. Is it that students oversees simply have more resources than here? Do they each get their own GCs? Anyways what is needed is some type of a certification program for the various skillsets ; anything from HPLC to organic synthesis or a small aspect of it. This would be a huge improvement in the correspondence between industry and academia because of it. Which would mean more people enrolling in schools.
There are programs around that have a more industrial slant, which incorporate industrial training into the usual style chemistry degree. There are numerous universities here offering "Chemistry with a year in Industry". These are programs in which you do the normal full degree plus an extra year in industry, but with no additional qualifications on paper, but you do get the experience. You can also do your degree whilst working in industry. I met a chemist at Pfizer when I was doing some work experience who was getting her education paid for by Pfizer and doing the degree part-time whilst working for them - a process which was due to take 5 years (for a batchelors).
This is more along the lines of what I envisioned. There's no such thing here.
Is there such a thing out there as " HPLC Certification " or " GC Certification " out there? Anyways the distinction between you and I seems to be that you believe that all chemists are ultimately be destined to become doctorates or at least obtain their Masters. In Georgia, however, the rumor is that a Masters doesn't confer an advantage to the Bachelors. One only pursues a Masters if going for a doctorate. I would advocate for the implementation of a separate type of degree which would encourage people with more of a financial interest to enroll in the Chemistry programs at local Universities.