- Previous events
- Vitae researcher development conference 2008
- Workshop programme NEW UPDATE December 08
- D12 Workshop summary and outcomes
- D12 Supplementary notes 2
D12 Supplementary notes 2
Workshop Summary and Outcomes
D12: Exploring the professional development of research training professionals
The introduction of Roberts payments acted as a catalyst in many ways, not only in raising the profile and importance of the personal and professional development of researchers, but in the strategies and infrastructures developed by institutions in order to respond to this national driver. This involved, for many institutions, the introduction of, and recruitment to, new posts specifically responsible for developing, co-ordinating and delivering researcher training programmes.
Six years on, we acknowledge a growing community of professionals employed by universities in 'Roberts posts', supported by a growing network of independent trainers, and we are starting to see national mobility across these. These developments may suggest the emergence of a new career path and a concomitant need to provide more structured opportunities to acquire and validate relevant experience and expertise.
This workshop asked participants to:
- share their experiences
- highlight their development needs as professionals
- explore the potential to develop a national CPD programme for the sector.
The session was divided into three strands:
- exploration by groups of the type of profile, skills, responsibilities, career experiences and aspirations of those currently in researcher training posts / or external training consultants
- Overview and discussion of the types of training and professional qualifications available to researcher trainers and those currently used by institutions
- Discussion about what types of the things could be offered by a national organisation in order to plug existing gaps.
1. Example profile of a research training professional
- There is no single example of a profile which is common to all, other than the ‘diversity' of past and current experiences
- Training roles are found in a broad variety of divisions and departments within an institution e.g. research and enterprise, HR - working with PIs, staff development / research support, graduate school, Faculties and Schools
- Lengths of contract vary from 1 year to permanent
- Participants felt that if Roberts money was no longer ring fenced that essentially they should be more broadly categorised as ‘trainers', ‘developers', ‘consultants' or ‘coaches'
- The backgrounds and experience of individuals were broad and varied. Examples included those who had made a career change following a career in research and those who had taught in FE and HE
- Participants who train felt is was important (essential?) to have experience or knowledge of the research environment. Without it, trainers lacked credibility with their audience. Independent trainers in particular relied on credibility to market themselves and what they can offer
- Flexibility and adaptability, both within and outside the training room
- Consultancy skills in order to identify the need and develop a training solutions
- Client management: internally in HEIs - negotiating climate between HR (pull) and staff and graduate schools (push)
- Financial management and accountability
- Managing others (administration, trainers, external agencies)
Experiences of independent trainers:
- Develop training by invitation - less or no influence on the wider context or programme within which the training fits
- Distanced from internal politics
- There were very few examples were people had had formal training specifically tailored for their role. Mostly people brought their own experiences with them from previous roles.
- Where people had access to training this was not specific to their role e.g. Certificate in Training practice (HR focus). HEA certificates (academic teaching focus)
- In-house training is available within institutions for those interested in pursuing an academic career - aspects of this training do have some relevance to trainers
- For some there were limitations around the cost of training and the time invested around portfolio writing required by some of the existing qualifications
- Many actively sought opportunities to upskill themselves. These opportunities were not accredited but beneficial to improving their own knowledge and skills.
- These were very varied and included examples like web development, lecturer in educational research, organisational strategy, coaching and mentoring and staying put.
- The landscape is constantly changing. E.g. institutions are seeking to upskill their own staff so there is less reliance (in some instances) on external trainers as part of building their strategy beyond 2011. However participants still acknowledged there was a role to involve specialists and vary the portfolio of those who delivered training within institutions by using external trainers.
- There is a lack of formal career progression. It is very difficult to articulate to someone interested in pursing a career in training within the HE sector about how they might go about it.
2. Overview and discussion of the types of training and professional qualifications available to researcher trainers and those currently used by institutions
- HEA- Higher Education Academy
A larger number of HEIs have postgraduate certificates or master programmes accredited by the HEA - they have been usually designed for Academic members of staff and trainers have undertaken as part of their professional development.
PG cert - teaching in higher education, coaching and mentoring, academic practice
Maters in education, academic practice
The HEA has different levels of membership dependent upon your experience and qualifications
- ILM - Institute of leadership and management
They offer a range of vocationally related qualifications and NVQs in leadership and management and professional qualifications in coaching and mentoring. A number of institutions run programmes in house that staff can attend.
- CIPD - Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
They provide learning and development and continual professional development opportunities for those working in HR and training. Universities have either run in-house training accredited to CIPD or promoted CIPD course to staff. Manchester University trainers have undertaken the NVQ certificate in training practice and there are many additional courses on offer to develop the trainer further. As with the HEA there are different levels of membership and progression
- SEDA - Staff and Educational Development Association
SEDA fellowship and associated fellowship schemes provide professional accreditation for those involved in academic staff and educational development within HEIs. A number of HEIs have accredited programmes (postgraduate certificates, diplomas).
- Leadership Foundation for Higher Education
The leadership foundation took over HESDA (higher education staff development association). They provide annual staff development conferences and CPD courses for staff trainers.
- Training Journal
They coordinate training opportunities across the country, bringin together events specifically for trainers, highlighting CIPD accredited courses and Certified Learning Practitioner accredited courses and CPD courses (one off courses).
The Springboard Women's Development Programme is the phenomenally successful, award-winning development course for women.
They run an ongoing training and professional development programme enabling you to become qualified practitioner and develop into a certified practitioner
- Federation for Community Development Learning
Supporting the development of communities: advancing and promoting community development learning at local, regional and national levels, and creating opportunities for good quality training and qualifications
- The Training Foundation
The TAP Skills Programme is designed for people involved in training and developing others.
The Programme embraces the skills needs of three groups contributing to effective learning:
Learning and development professionals, Line Managers and Subject matter experts in performance support roles.
- Trainer Networks
The Trainers Network brings together trainers and learning facilitators from all sectors, public and private, specialist and mainstream, to share learning and experiences in relation to best practice, recent innovations, quality standards and continuing professional development.
- Formal and Informal mentoring opportunities
From speaking to trainers many feel that they have developed links through UKGrad schools and have developed informal mentoring opportunities. Many people have asked for further support with this to link trainers across HEI and with external trainers.
- Vitae run activities
Tutor training and Advanced tutor training have been cited as having been very beneficial to trainers to hone their skills, develop contacts and gain new ideas. This maybe worth looking at on a national level or regional running development events or opportunities and getting in external trainers to refresh ideas.
- Regional Hubs
- Trainer the trainer sessions were mentioned
- Postgraduate Certificate (Nottingham)
- Springboard licence
- Oxford and Cambridge have a trainers network
- Regional Hub forums on topics of interest e.g. evaluation
- Public sector mentoring scheme (email Helen@hutchinsontraining.com for more info)
3. What could be offered by a national organisation in order to plug existing gaps
- Upskilling workshops (delivered nationally or through the regional Hubs) e.g. advanced facilitation, designing effective researcher training programmes, what's new in the world of researcher training (for external trainers)
- Vitae to engage with a national professional body (CIPD or SEEDA) to develop a qualification for trainers working in and with (postgraduate) higher education.
- Any qualification has to be sustainable and valid beyond Roberts and beyond Vitae's existence.
- It was felt that CIPD potentially had the most currency within and outside the HE sector.
- Any qualification needs to be able to acknowledge existing experience and be flexible enough to apply to postgraduate and researcher staff trainers and developers
- It would potentially be useful in recognising the professional role within academic structures
- Vitae could develop a template for self-directed learning
- Recognition by Vitae of trainers working in the postgraduate sector, which helps institutions recognise those with experience and understanding of working with researchers
- Potential to explore a mentoring model or action learning sets
- Career profiles of people