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.



Executive summary

The formation and careers of researchers are important policy issues and training for transferable skills – skills that apply in a broad variety of work situations – is a challenge that attracts increasing policy interest. These skills are receiving more attention, particularly in higher education programmes, and training opportunities are expanding as research careers diversify and researchers’ skills needs evolve. Researchers today need skills relating to communication, problem-solving, team-working and networking, and business and management know-how. These give them workplace competencies that are relevant for a broad job market, although the skills they need may vary in different sectors.


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