The people at Job Centre Plus take a full page ad in my local rag showing the range of vacancies they have on offer. Amid the kind of opportunities you'd expect - for Care Workers, Drivers and the odd Butcher's Assistant - one job stands out from the crowd. To apply for the advertised Science Leader Inorganic & IRMS role, all that's required is a PhD in a 'relevant scientific field', knowledge of high accuracy quantification and a passing familiarity with laser ablation.
I'm not sure which amazes me more: the idea of the employer thinking they'll find their mass spectrometrist down at the local labour exchange or the civil servants finding it appropriate to promote the vacancy. Even if we accept there are a number of middle-class professionals who have lost their jobs in the recession and that the Job Centre probably wants to demonstrate it doesn't just deal in cooks and bottle-washers, I think it's safe to say that the number of locals fitting the Science Leader profile will be a little on the low side. In fact, if anyone does have the necessary qualifications locally, they'll already be working for the employer that's advertising.
Eventually, I suspect, the scientists may be forced to take radical measures. Like paying for an ad in a scientific publication or maybe listing their job on a website read by spectrometrists looking for work. In the meantime, I can only imagine the conversations:
"Yes, Mr Jones, I can see from your application that you're very interested in isotope ratio determination. But how exactly did your career in retail management prepare you for it?"