Transferable Skills Training for Researchers

Supporting Career Development and Research

image of Transferable Skills Training for Researchers

Researchers are embarking on increasingly diverse careers where collaboration, networking and interdisciplinarity are becoming more important. Transferable skills (e.g. communication skills and problem-solving abilities) can help researchers operate more effectively in different work environments. While researchers acquire some of these skills in the course of studies and work, attention is turning to the role of formal training.

This study analyses countries' government and institutional level policies on formal training in transferable skills for researchers, from doctoral students through to experienced research managers. It draws on results from a cross-country policy quesionnaire on transferable skills training strategies and programmes, including formal training and workplace-based options, as well as discussions at a policy-oriented workshop with OECD delegates and experts. The study represents a first step to analysing transferable skills for researchers in OECD countries.

The study points to the significant role of individual institutions in setting strategies and providing transferable skills training programmes. While the scope for governments to improve on current arrangements is difficult to assess, the study suggests policy makers could boost policy monitoring and evaluation, facilitate dialogue between academia and industry, encourage workplace-based training options, and leverage collaborative research to support transferable skills training for researchers at all levels.


Current approaches to transferable skills training for researchers

Institutions appear to be the main actors in terms of strategies and programmes for formal transferable skills training for researchers. Most training activity is recent and has a variety of goals, with communication and interpersonal skills the most frequent targets. Most programmes have not yet been evaluated and there are few planned changes to current approaches. Workplace-based training appears relatively limited but likely to increase. The data do not allow for robust cross-country comparisons, but countries appear to differ in terms of the level of government involvement and the direction and novelty of their policies.


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