Servizio Comunitario di Informazione in materia di Ricerca e Sviluppo - CORDIS

FP7

REFLEX Report Summary

Project reference: 643510
Funded under: FP7-COH

Periodic Report Summary 1 - REFLEX (Responsive and Flexible: Living and learning researcher career development framework.)

Project Context and Objectives:
Systematic and focused career management is becoming increasingly important for both researchers and their employers. It should enable the research institutions to fully use the potential of their human resources and researchers to identify and grasp the number of different opportunities that labour market offers for their careers. Research organisations face the challenge of how to guide researchers through this process and what they can do in order to enable individual careers and train researchers to become creative, critical and autonomous intellectual risk takers. Offering both researchers and their employers tools and assistance in the set-up of career management process is therefore a critical task. And EURAXESS network should overtake an important role in this in the near future and alongside its original mission it should become the reference point in career development for mobile and non-mobile researchers alike. Some network members will be expected to take over also the role of career development centres with the ability to provide personalised services. In the process of this transformation specific tools and activities will need to be introduced to help researchers navigate through their careers.

Currently variety of such tools is available, some of them formal and structured, other based on informal and self-directed approach. But if these tools should be implemented within the network such diverse as EURAXESS several challenges arise: These tools are usually designed for the use in certain research environments and might be not easily transferrable to other contexts. They are mostly based on the presumption of linear organisational careers and do not reflect the increasing mutability of career patterns with their interruptions and parallel directions adequately. They may be not sufficiently reflexive towards the opportunities arising with the creation of brand new, currently non-existing jobs in the near future.

REFLEX project aims to address these challenges through the designing of responsive, flexible, living and learning career development framework based on the direct involvement of researchers and HR departments, EURAXESS Service Centres and other relevant actors as facilitators of the career planning process formulation (Specific objective 1). Created framework will integrate existing tools into the context sensitive models of career development services and this way complement the efforts made so far in support of the career development of researchers (Specific objective 2). Practical testing and implementation of the framework carried out within the project will enable to disseminate these tools towards the researchers and other stakeholders (Specific objective 3).

The process of designing the Framework will start with identification of factors influencing researchers’ career pathways. The pool of different career development tools and practices will be collected and analysed with regard to their applicability in different national contexts. Scenario workshops with researchers and other local stakeholders will be organised in every project country to learn about the country specific situation. A set of modules will be defined describing the particular practices, procedures and skills, which will be combined into the common framework and its country specific mutations. Training model scheme focusing on the development of career management skills for researchers will be designed, adapted to different national contexts and pilot tested. Mutual learning and feedback activities will be carried out to ensure the coherence and continuous improvement of all project outcomes. In order to increase the transferability of the framework to other national and institutional contexts, European level workshop with participants from other EURAXESS networks and organisations representing the researchers and their employers will be organised before the end of the project.

Project Results:
The core of the activities carried out during the first year of the project implementation focused on the collection of input that should further be used to develop alternative career development framework, training model scheme and accompanying outcomes of the project. Stakeholders’ involvement and mutual learning had a central role throughout the whole process.

The project activities started with the mapping of existing knowledge and good practices on researchers’ career development providing solid theoretical background for the scenario workshops organised within the WP 1 but also other project activities, mainly the formulation of career support framework and training model scheme. All partners carried out the mapping exercise in their countries. The results of the mapping were transformed into the single database enabling further analysis of the collected data according to the various criteria.

Alongside this preparation of national scenario workshops started. Methodological guideline for the workshop was prepared. Lists of national stakeholders were compiled by project partners in all project countries and recruitment process was initiated. The pilot national scenario workshop took place in August 2015 in Trondheim, Norway. As foreseen in the project proposal, all project partners took active part in the workshop and discussed its course and conclusions during the feedback workshop organised on the following day. The goal of this mutual learning exercise was to monitor and provide an outside-in approach to WP 1 and gain the feedback on what worked and what needs to be improved. The national workshops in Slovakia, Denmark and Hungary took place from October 2015 to January 2015. The scenario workshop in Switzerland took place in January 2016. Although the schedule of the workshops shifted compared to the original time plan, it did not cause the significant delay of the general progress of the project. On the contrary, due to this shift, the methodology of the workshops could be more elaborated and composition of the participants better adjusted with regard to both their number and diversity. This in the end resulted in the better quality of the results feeding into the development of main project outcomes. The results and conclusions of the workshops were summarised in outcome reports prepared by all project partners.

Both, mapping outcomes and workshops results fed into the development of alternative career development framework and general training model scheme and its country specific mutations. The process of the creation of alternative career development framework is based on the continuous incorporation of inputs collected in the project and feedback provided by different actors. On the same time the preliminary outcomes of this process feed into other project tasks, especially into the creation of training model scheme. The partial goal for the first reporting period was therefore to draft initial outline of the framework modules that could be further used to define the structure of the general training model scheme. Both career development framework and model scheme will be built around the five key areas: (1) mobility, (2) networking, (3) career support, (4) academic skills and development and (5) company interaction. The general training model scheme will be delivered in March 2016.

Beside all above mentioned activities logistical preparation of the European level workshop has also started during the first reporting period: the workshop premises were contracted for the activity and the initial agenda was drafted. Along with the preparation of the national stakeholders’ lists the preparation of the EU level stakeholder list was prepared. European Level Workshop will take place in Bratislava on 9th November 2016 as one of the events carried out within the activities of Slovak Presidency of the Council of EU.

Potential Impact:
The project aims at contributing to the objectives of the European Research Area policies by enhancing the quality of research capacities with special focus on human resources in research. By making personalised career development assistance more easily available for researchers throughout Europe, and by further improving the activities and capacities of the EURAXESS network in this area, REFLEX will also contribute to the implementation of the EU policy regarding researchers’ career and mobility with the main focus on the strategic issues proposed by the Innovation Union (IU) strategy. The project will contribute to: (1) the training of researchers as well as offering more attractive employment conditions for researchers (IU Commitment 1); (2) making researchers’ mobility easier by offering skills assessment and development assistance throughout the career of researchers, reflecting their career stage, background and specific career pattern (IU Commitment 4) and (3) responding to needs and offering skills for researchers in order to keep them from leaving the research profession and make it easier for third country researchers to stay in Europe (IU Commitment 30).

More specifically:
• The project will contribute to better access to career advice services for wide groups of researchers by moving beyond the needs of “typical” researchers and standard career pathways and by increasing the availability of career assistance also to researchers who usually face the limited access to this kind of support.
• The project will contribute to wider inclusion of research institutions in the practical implementation of the EU policy regarding researchers’ career and mobility by developing flexible framework for the effective provision of career development assistance services and by making it accessible to all interested research institutions, including those with limited availability of resources.
• The project will increase effectiveness of new and existing career advice services by making the career advice more responsive to the specific situation of researcher and his/her context through incorporating the feedback from the researchers and other stakeholders and through the exchange of good practices.
• The project will raise the awareness about the multiple career opportunities for researchers by creating framework enabling the researchers to identify multiple research career opportunities and helping them acquire skills necessary to use these opportunities in accordance with their plans and ambitions.
• The project will ensure better availability of training enabling researchers to improve their own career management skills by developing model training schemes integrating the general aspects of career self-management with the thorough knowledge of the country specific contexts.
• The project will increase the relevance of provided career advice and related training for the careers in industry by reflecting different needs and expectations which employers from different sectors put on skills and competencies researchers working for them should have in the process of framework design.
• The project will contribute to broader and better services provided by the EURAXESS Services Network to both mobile and non-mobile researchers and professional development of EURAXESS staff on the issues of career advice by providing the EURAXESS network members both with the flexible framework for the provisions of the career development services and unique know-how on how to implement this framework in different contexts effectively

In line with the overall objectives of REFLEX project researchers themselves, HR departments of research institutions and EURAXESS Service Centres participating in the implementation of framework will be directly involved and benefiting from the project. In addition, benefit will also be available for a wide array of actors involved in researchers’ career development.

List of Websites:
www.euraxess-reflex.eu

Contact

Kostalova, Katarina (Executive Director)
Tel.: +421259304700
E-mail
Record Number: 182157 / Last updated on: 2016-05-24
Information source: SESAM