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Enhancing The Outreach and Effectiveness of the Partners in the EURAXESS Services Network

Periodic Report Summary - EURAXESS T.O.P. (Enhancing the outreach and effectiveness of the partners in the EURAXESS Services Network)

Introducing the network
A total of 35 European countries are engaged in the Euraxess Services Network. It operates on national, regional and local levels and plays an important role in removing obstacles to researchers' mobility by providing key information including immigration, funding opportunities, social security and pensions. Websites display general information; helpdesks give free and personalised assistance. On a Europe-wide job portal for research positions, vacancies and CVs can be posted free of charge. Euraxess representatives also contribute to discussions at the policy level on issues concerning the 'European partnership for researchers'.

Facts on the project
The project 'Euraxess T.O.P. - Enhancing the outreach and effectiveness of the partners in the Euraxess Services Network ' is funded by the European Commission (EC) with up to EUR 2.9 million. Bridgehead organisations (BHOs) from 11 countries form the project consortium: Germany (coordinator); Greece, Spain (work package leaders); Bulgaria, Estonia, France, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Norway and Sweden (task leaders). Most other countries in the Euraxess network contribute on a voluntary basis, making the project one that encompasses 29 countries.

Objective and main activities
The overall objective of the project is to reinforce the quality, effectiveness and coherence of the services provided by the Euraxess Services Network. The main activities are:

- Developing an electronic handbook. It will later serve as a manual on how to design and run a Euraxess Services Centre (ESC). Its core components will be a collection of best practices and checklists for quality management issues.
- The launch and follow-up of a 'portal call', providing BHOs with funds for improving the contents and structure of their national portals and for promoting the EURAXESS jobs section.
- The design and organisation of two workshops, one for BHOs, one for services centres.

Collecting experiences
From January to April 2010, the task leaders and their teams worked on the following issues:

- The Norwegian partner and his team from 15 countries sketched the structure of their national networks. They collected more than 100 best practice examples on 'how to run a EURAXESS Services Centre'.
- The French partner and his team worked on assessing the potential of the 'French researchers' card' to be used in a Europe-wide context. This tool is used for collecting data on researchers and for providing incentives for them.
- The Israelian partner and his team worked on checklists and other tools for quality assessment of the work carried out in EURAXESS Services Centres.

The 'portal call'
About half of the project budget is dedicated to this specific task. One EURAXESS BHO per country qualified for funding. The Estonian partner and her task team defined 15 quality criteria, which all national portals had to fulfil after the funding period had come to an end. All applicants also had to commit to promotional activities centred around the portals and including the EURAXESS jobs portal. A total of 34 countries submitted applications; they were evaluated and all of them could be approved.

The two workshops in the project are based on the assumption that experienced EURAXESS staff members are experts on their job. Therefore, they qualify to act as trainers for less experienced colleagues. Training needs of participants as well as potential trainers were identified by a survey carried out by the Irish partner. The first workshop, organised by the Bulgarian partner, took place in Brussels on 23 June 2010, and was deemed to be successful by the participants. The concept for the second workshop, scheduled for December 2010, will be built on this experience.

The work carried out in all tasks is to result in an electronic handbook. Feedback collected during the workshops will be included into the final version. The handbook will be available online to all network members and other stakeholders by March 2011.