- Previous events
- Vitae researcher development conference 2008
- Workshop programme NEW UPDATE December 08
- D10 Workshop summary and outcomes
D10 Workshop summary and outcomes
Encouraging researchers to engage with employers
Dr Simon Cutler, Innovation Programme Manager, BBSRC, Dr Anne Forde, Postdoctoral Careers Advisor, Graduate School of Life Sciences, University of Cambridge, Liz Simmonds, Postdoctoral Careers Adviser, School of Physical Sciences, University of Cambridge
Many researchers have found it difficult to access information about careers outside academia. The potential value that academic researchers can offer employers in many sectors should not be underestimated, nor their wider positive impact on the UK economy.
The session covered:
- the importance of broadening researcher's skills base and career horizons
- the benefits and challenges to stakeholders (researcher, HE institution, employer, research councils) of engaging with employer and employer schemes
- opportunities to build on relationships in order to create lasting and sustainable partnerships.
The workshop profiled a number of schemes offered by the research councils (particularly BBSRC) which give researchers the opportunity to engage with employers, encourage a broader thinking about research career options, develop new skills and provide valuable experience which can enhance their CV. Such schemes also provide significant benefits for employers themselves. The schemes profiled included the Biotechnology Young Entrepreneur Scheme, Enterprise Fellowships, post-doctoral Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and Modular Training for Industry .
The session also profiled an approach used by the University of Cambridge to engage employers with the university's research population (particularly focusing on research staff). For the past two years, Cambridge has invited many former researchers who are now working outside academia to present their career paths and employers to the university's researchers. These role models have successfully informed and inspired researchers on the wide variety of career options available to them. An interesting knock-on effect has been observed: the role models and their colleagues have subsequently demonstrated a greater understanding and interest in the university's researchers as a future talent pool. This benefit emerges in a slow but steady manner. An advantage of this approach is that employers have the opportunity to meet researchers without any major cost or inconvenience to their businesses.
There was general agreement that it is difficult to engage employers with research staff. There is a lack of understanding (often accompanied by a perception that researchers lack commercial awareness). What is the business case for employing former research staff?
The workshop identified many innovative ideas from across the UK, often focusing on using alumni, or employers for skills sessions. Examples include:
- business plan competitions (innovative research) with employer panels and a formal reception
- sector-specific employer events
- providing external low cost consultancy
- mentoring schemes
- workshops with industrial speakers (maybe use Regional Development Agencies to help find these)
- Using alumni and friends networks.
There is potential for some larger, cross-institutional events to use large numbers as the hook to attract employers.
The workshop raised the possibility of tapping into employers' corporate social responsibility agenda to engage them with research staff, for example via mentoring schemes.
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