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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.

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Transferable skills for researchers: Policy challenges and directions

The appropriate role for governments in transferable skills training is the central question addressed by this study. While much training activity appears to be initiated spontaneously by institutions, possible areas of action for governments include boosting monitoring and evaluation, encouraging greater dialogue between academia and industry, supporting modes of workplace-based training and leveraging policies on collaborative research. These suggestions take into account the constraints on the information gathered for the study and address issues identified as relevant by numerous stakeholders. This concluding chapter presents ideas on policy challenges and future policy directions for transferable skills training for researchers. It begins by setting out the views on policy expressed by delegates to the OECD Working Party on Research Institutions and Human Resources (RIHR) and experts who attended the Workshop on Transferable Skills Training for Researchers: Supporting Career Development and Research (Annex C presents the workshop programme). It then draws together the main points emerging from the study to highlight key policy issues and potential avenues for policy makers to consider.

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