As a result of demographic change, Europe will soon have a shortage of young talent: as early as 2030 there will be an estimated 50,000 fewer university graduates than in 2005. Particularly the natural and engineering sciences are already experiencing a shortage of junior researchers, making it all the more important to encourage young people's interest in studies in these areas early on. Instructors play an important role in this process. That is why the Max Planck Society supports them with informative periodicals, which present topical research issues in such a way that they can easily be used in natural sciences courses for senior-level academic-track students.
But despite this, the number of talented junior scientists from Germany will never fully meet the demand in science and research. That is why, in 1998, the Max Planck Society, in collaboration with the universities, developed a program to motivate talented young Ph.D. students from all over the world to come to Germany for postdoctoral studies: the International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS). These schools offer junior scientists excellent research opportunities, providing them with extensive support and special offers to foster their development. The doctoral students who work at the IMPRS come from a total of 85 countries. Each year, the Max Planck Society awards the Otto Hahn Medal for outstanding Ph.D. dissertations, providing financial assistance for a postdoc position abroad.
As the head of an Independent Junior Research Group at a Max Planck Institute, young researchers can lay the cornerstone for their future scientific career: they then have five years to pursue their own research goals on a limited but secure budget. These are highly coveted positions that are announced internationally and awarded in a competitive process. This fellowship program has proven its worth over the course of its 40-year existence, and has been adopted by many other scientific organizations in Germany and abroad.
The Max Planck Society also fosters the scientific potential of young women with a range of offers, predominantly through the Minerva Program. In the last ten years, this program has succeeded in doubling the percentage of women among Max Planck scientists. In 2008, the figure stood at 26 percent and rising, positioning the Max Planck Society as one of the top-ranking research institutions in Germany in this respect. Women also receive additional support through mentoring programs, advanced training seminars and childcare options. The Max Planck Society was the first scientific organization to undergo the family-friendliness audit "berufundfamilie" (job and family), and successfully obtained certification.