A challenge to professors: tell your students the truth and help them find non-academic jobs!
Here is a quote from "At Cross Purposes: What the experiences of doctoral students reveal about doctoral education." By Chris M. Golde and Timothy M. Dore. January, 2001. A report prepared for The Pew Charitable Trusts, Philadelphia, PA. www.phd-survey.org
This information is based on The Survey on Doctoral Education and Career Preparation, a 1999 survey of 4,114 students in 27 universities.
The data from this study show that in today's doctoral programs, there is a three-way mismatch between student goals, training and actual careers. Despite a decade of attention, the mismatch between the purpose of doctoral education, aspirations of the students, and the realities of their careers within and outside academia continues. Doctoral students persist in pursuing careers as faculty members, and graduate programs persist in preparing them for careers at research universities, despite the well-publicized paucity of academic jobs and efforts to diversify the options available for doctorate-holders. The result: Students are not well prepared to assume the faculty positions that are available, nor do they have a clear concept of their suitability for work outside of research.
I don't know who is perpetuating this ridiculous situation, but someone needs to take responsibility. If I were a professor today, I'd be urging all my graduate students to reconsider their career choice, and I'd be helping them to be aware of the non-academic alternatives available to them.
I'd go so far as to challenge one professor to level with her/his students. If you know of anyone who has done so, let me know!