Postdoctoral programs are specific programs created for young researchers with PhD degree which are not ready to get an Assistant Professor position because of lack of experience, publications or general situation in academic market. These positions are typically less prestigious and well-paid comparing with professorship, but it is often the only way to start a career in academia. That’s particularly true for some fields, such as Biology or Life Sciences in general, where almost all young PhDs have to complete their postdocs before applying for Assistant Professor positions.
The main goal of postdoctoral position is to acquire additional skills and experience in order to be more valuable on academic market. Postdocs usually participate in researches along with more experiences scientist which also a good way to get publication in leading journals and to gain some research experience. About 25% PhD graduates in the United Kingdom continue their career as postdoctoral researchers.
The good thing about postdocs is that it is typically much easier to get this position comparing with permanent faculty position at university. That’s additional time for you to demonstrate your abilities and academic potential for your potential employers, as well as to analyze your own strong and weak areas and take some efforts to improve it. Sometimes postdocs have also complete a thesis or a research which would provide some information about their skills and abilities. In this aspect postdoc programs may look similar to PhD programs, but provide more freedom for young researchers. Typical postdoc program takes about 5 or 6 years.