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Irish Presidency Conference: Researcher Careers and Mobility

Final Report Summary - EIRMOB (Irish Presidency Conference: Researcher Careers and Mobility)


Executive Summary:

The EU2013 Research Careers and Mobility Conference took place on 14th and 15th May 2013 in Dublin under the auspices of the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The conference brought together over 240 participants representing a wide range of key stakeholders, including individual researchers, research representative organisations, policy makers, research funding bodies, delegates from universities and the private sector, to develop practical solutions to career and mobility challenges faced by researchers in Europe.

The conference focused on European Union research policy, the European Research Area (ERA) and specifically, the free movement of knowledge and researchers across borders. The overarching aim of the Irish Presidency conference was to take stock of the progress to date, identify the outstanding obstacles and, in dialogue with all relevant stakeholders, develop recommendations to address these issues. Building on the significant policy groundwork laid at EU level, the focus of the conference was the translation of the ERA policy objectives into practical solutions, which can be implemented in the context of Horizon 2020.

The following themes were addressed during the conference:

1. Recruitment of Researchers
2. Preparing Doctoral Candidates for the Future
3. Professional Development and Training for Researchers
4. Mobility across disciplines, sectors and borders

A key feature of the conference was a strong focus on the involvement of individual researchers from the public and private sectors and across all career stages to enable their input into shaping future initiatives in interaction with policy makers, researcher funders, research employers, universities and representative bodies.

The conclusions and recommendations elaborated by the conference show that a partnership approach involving all stakeholders is necessary to drive forward the ERA agenda. While EU-level policies and initiatives can provide an impetus, take-up and implementation requires commitment and responsibility across the board from Member States, universities, industry, research funders, representative bodies and individual researchers. The solutions developed must be adequate to address the challenges at hand and the range of tools for policy implementation available to the Commission should be considered in full. In some cases, voluntary coordination is sufficient, while for other “stickier” issues, more binding approaches may be required.

Project Context and Objectives:

Context and Background

As part of the EU agenda towards growth and more and better jobs, investment in research and the realization of the European Research Area is now more significant than ever. A crucial element in achieving the ERA is the creation of internationally competitive conditions to attract and retain the critical mass of talented researchers needed for a world-class unified area for research, knowledge and innovation. This overarching objective formed the focus of the EU2013 Research Careers and Mobility Conference which took place on 14th and 15th May 2013 in Dublin under the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Significant progress has been made on many issues concerning researcher careers in recent years, including the Scientific Visa Directive, the EU Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for their Recruitment, the EURAXESS network, the European Framework for Research Careers and, most recently, the Principles for Innovative Doctoral Training. However, a number of challenges remain to be addressed:

- The gap in innovation performance between Member States is widening, threatening a desertification of talent in large areas of Europe.
- The EU continues to lag behind the USA and Japan in terms of the share of researchers in the total labour force, and most notably, in the share of total researchers employed in the business sector. Yet, many researchers in parts of Europe are facing precarious career prospects and even unemployment, suggesting an ill fit between the supply of researchers, their training and employer demand.
- Despite improvements in gender balance across all fields of science, the gender gap remains disproportionately high with the “leaky pipeline” still evident along the career progression scale.
- The free circulation of researchers within a Single European Market for research knowledge and innovation continues to be inhibited by barriers such as social security and pension issues, a lack of open, transparent merit-based recruitment, uncertain career paths and employment conditions, deficiencies in career planning and professional development across all career stages and challenges to mobility across borders, disciplines and sectors.

EU2013 Research Careers and Mobility Conference: Concept and Goals

In the current economic climate, investment in research and education and the achievement of the European Research Area (ERA), the Single European Market for research, knowledge and innovation, is more significant than ever. Research and innovation are a key building block in the road to economic recovery and growth for Europe as a whole. Despite the downturn, employment in innovation and knowledge-intensive sectors has proven resilient: while five million jobs were lost in the EU between 2008 and 2010, the number of knowledge-intensive jobs increased by more than 800,000.

The Innovation Union commits to increasing R&D investment to 3% of GDP by 2020 and realising the ERA by 2014. To achieve this, one million new research jobs will need to be created and an even higher number of researchers are required, as a large number of the current researcher workforce will retire over the next decade. A crucial element in achieving the ERA is therefore the creation of internationally competitive conditions to attract and retain the critical mass of talented researchers needed for a world-class unified area for research, knowledge and innovation. The research profession in Europe needs to become more attractive to provide the ERA with qualified human capital. Consequently, at this critical juncture, the remaining obstacles to a genuinely open and attractive European labour market for researchers must be addressed with urgency.

This context forms the background and rationale for the EU2013 Research Careers and Mobility Conference which took place on 14th and 15th May 2013 in Dublin under the auspices of the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The conference brought together over 240 participants representing a wide range of key stakeholders, including individual researchers, research representative organisations, policy makers, research funding bodies, delegates from universities and the private sector, to develop practical solutions to career and mobility challenges faced by researchers in Europe.

The barriers to the free circulation of researchers across geographical and sectoral borders are well-known: social security and pension issues, access to and the portability of national grants across borders, a lack of open, transparent, merit-based recruitment and uncertain career paths and insufficient opportunities for professional development all inhibit seamless mobility within and to Europe. Recent years have seen a number of major EU policy initiatives aimed at addressing these obstacles and substantial progress has been made through measures such as the Scientific Visa Directive, the EU Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for their Recruitment, the EURAXESS network, Principles for Innovative Doctoral Training and, most recently, the creation of a European Framework for Research Careers. However, a number of challenges remain and urgently need to be addressed to drive forward the completion of the ERA by 2014.

The overarching aim of the Irish Presidency conference was therefore to take stock of the progress to date, identify the outstanding obstacles and, in dialogue with all relevant stakeholders, develop recommendations to address these issues. Building on the significant policy groundwork laid at EU level, the focus of the conference was the translation of the ERA policy objectives into practical solutions which can be implemented in the framework of Horizon 2020. The following issues formed the agenda for interactive stakeholder discussions and workshops:

1. Recruitment of Researchers

- Open merit-based recruitment
- Bringing new talent to companies
- Creating attractive working conditions: implementation of the Human Resources Strategy for Researchers (HSR4R).

2. Preparing Doctoral Candidates for the Future

- High quality doctoral training
- Upskilling researchers for diverse career paths
- Mainstreaming standards and sustainability

3. Professional Development and Training for Researchers

- Career planning and professional development for researchers
- Job opportunities and skills needed
- Helping employers understand researchers’ capabilities

4. Mobility across disciplines, sectors and borders
- New concepts of mobility and their recognition
- Benefits and challenges of mobility
- Connecting with the scientific diaspora

A key feature of the conference was a strong focus on the involvement of individual researchers from the public and private sectors and across all career stages to enable their input into shaping future initiatives in interaction with policy makers, researcher funders, research employers, universities and representative bodies.

Bibliography:

1. Council Directive 2005/71/EC of 12 October 2005 on a specific procedure for admitting third-country nationals for the purposes of scientific research.
2. European Commission (2005) The European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers. European Commission: Brussels.
3. http://ec.europa.eu/euraxess/
4. European Commission (2011) Towards a European Framework for Research Careers. Brussels: European Commission.
5. European Commission (2011) Principles for Innovative Doctoral Training. Brussels: European Commission.
6. http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-13-407_en.htm accessed 21.06.2013.
7. European Commission (2010) Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative Innovation Union COM(2010)546 final. 6 October 2010.

Project Results:

The main outcome of the conference is a detailed final report which outlines 18 Recommendations around the four main themes addressed during the conference. These recommendations are listed below. More detail on the conference outcomes (outcomes of workshops) can be found in the attachment (Final Conference Report).

1. Recruitment of researchers: transparency and attractive career prospects across sectors

Recommendation 1: Evaluation criteria for publicly funded fellowships should be developed by research funding organisations with researchers, and as far as possible, be standardised for all schemes. An external agency at national or European level could be tasked with checking that the criteria are in line with the principles of the Charter and Code.

Recommendation 2: Universities, research funders and industry should fill all research positions according to open, transparent and merit-based recruitment. The EURAXESS Jobs Portal should be established as the European job portal for all research jobs and positions, including internships. The service should be sustained on a long-term basis with co-funding from the EU and the Member States.

Recommendation 3: The success of the EURAXESS network should be harnessed and its remit extended to provide customized advisory services for private sector employers in researcher recruitment and mobility issues. An industry user interface for EURAXESS centres, modelled on the new Irish version, should be rolled out to other countries.

Recommendation 4: The European Commission should consider using Horizon 2020 funding as a tool to support and incentivise open recruitment. Possibilities for incentives and penalties should be explored, such as conditionality in funding subject to the implementation of the principles of the Charter and Code for Researchers.

Recommendation 5: A key part of developing independence is for researchers to secure their own funding. This is well supported by the European Commission through the Marie Sklodowska Actions and the European Research Council. National funders and employers should facilitate this independence by explicitly recognising young researchers as professionals and, for example, allowing them to apply for funding in their own name.

2. Preparing doctoral candidates for the future: diverse career paths, quality maintenance and mainstreaming

Recommendation 6: Wider uptake of the Principles for Innovative Doctoral Training should be promoted by the EU, Member States, institutions and funders.

Recommendation 7: Existing good practices in Member States in dealing with issues specific to PhD research carried out in industry, such as disclosure and IPR, should be widely disseminated, possibly in the form of a common set of best practice principles.

Recommendation 8: Appropriate structures for cost-sharing with industry/other sectors should be developed in order to finance a wider roll-out of structured programmes

Recommendation 9: Possibilities to broaden structures for doctoral training via use of the EU Structural Funds should be explored.

Recommendation 10: The EU Commission via Horizon 2020 should help to set and promote standards by mainstreaming the Marie Curie experience and standards for doctoral training across all priority actions for all PhD candidates employed in projects, including European Research Council grants, and earmarking funds for innovative training elements.

3. Professional development and training for researchers: planning for multiple career path, skills awareness and development

Recommendation 11: Awareness-raising among early-stage researchers by research funders and institutions with regard to non-traditional career paths is urgently required to counter the gap between expectations of a career in academia and the availability of tenure-track positions. This should target researchers at an early stage in their careers, for example, by providing pre-entry advice to PhD candidates on the diversity of research careers and a realistic assessment of the current employment situation.

Recommendation 12: Exposure to industry and other relevant employment sectors as part of skills development or careers advice from role models outside of industry can help to broaden career perspectives. Under Horizon 2020, a new Marie Curie Fellowship scheme could be considered to fund internships outside of academia for postdoctoral researchers.

Recommendation 13: Access to careers advice should be available to researchers at all stages of development up to and beyond the completion of a PhD. In order to encourage research institutions to incorporate research careers advisory services in their HR policies, funders should consider including career development in funding criteria and making awards dependent on the delivery of a career plan, with updates throughout the grant duration. Similar incentives could be considered under Horizon 2020 to promote access to professional development and careers advice, such as extra funding for professional development or conditionality in funding criteria.

Recommendation 14: The European Framework for Research Careers and the Vitae Researcher Development Framework should be harnessed and further developed to provide a common, structured European Researcher Development Framework which could facilitate transparency and mobility, provide a single European language to describe researchers’ skills and support the aims of the Charter and Code.

4. Mobility across disciplines, sectors and borders: challenges, new concepts and global connection

Recommendation 15: Research funders, employers and the EU Commission should look at how best to respond to new concepts of mobility and their recognition, building on the work undertaken by the European Science Foundation. This also requires building the knowledge base through studies such as MORE and by introducing a career tracking system for researchers.

Recommendation 16: Intersectoral positions should be incentivised to encourage a two-way flow of human and knowledge capital between academia and industry at all career stages, e.g. by co-financing combined positions and facilitating a common approach in recognizing alternative but equivalent research outputs across sectors.

Recommendation 17: The growing imbalance in researcher mobility in Europe to the detriment of economically weaker countries needs to be countered urgently. Synergies between Horizon 2020 and the Structural Funds should be explored to address this, for example, through initiatives such as ERA Chairs.

Recommendation 18: The EU Commission should provide support to further develop and expand the EURAXESS Links Network, linking the scientific diaspora outside of Europe in a community of global scientific citizens.

Potential Impact:

A. Potential Impact of Results

This Presidency conference was funded under the FP7 Capacities Programme; Support for the Coherent Development of Research Policies. The Capacities Work Programme for 2012 stated that the expected impact of the Irish Presidency was to improve “the coordination and coherence of policy initiatives and actions at EU and national levels and thereby will contribute to advance the realisation of the objectives of the Innovation Union initiative, including ERA.“

Presidency conferences can play a key role in policy development and implementation. They facilitate engagement and discussion with a wide range of key stakeholders. The central theme of the conference was excellence in research and innovation through achieving the European Research Area. Specifically, the EIRMOB project addressed the issue of an Open Labour Market for Researchers as part of the latest developments in ERA policy. The conference covered researcher career and mobility issues under the following headings:

1. Recruitment of Researchers
2. Preparing Doctoral Candidates for the Future
3. Professional Development and Training for Researchers
4. Mobility across disciplines, sectors and borders

This conference addressed progress towards achieving ERA by 2014. It focused on assessing progress and identifying outstanding issues. The conference brought together the main stakeholders that are responsible for advancing the ERA to discuss coordination and coherence of policy initiatives towards this objective. The stakeholders participated in a series of panel discussions and four workshops designed to explore the four headings listed above.

The main outcome of the conference is a conference report, detailing the outcomes of the four workshops and associated discussions at the conference. Each workshop resulted in a list of Recommendations for actions which should be undertaken by the European Commission and the Member States to improve the situation regarding research careers in Europe and to progress towards the completion of the ERA. These recommendations are listed in the section above and will not be repeated here.

This outcome of the Irish conference informed related activities under the Lithuanian Presidency in the latter part of 2013, for example, the conference dedicated to the research profession during Lithuania’s EU Council presidency, which took place on 14-15 November 2013. EIRMOB’s Coordinator was a member of the steering committee of this conference, and ensured that the results of EIRMOB were integrated into the themes of the Lithuanian Presidency Conference.

B. Main Dissemination Activities and Exploitation of Results

This Presidency conference can be seen in the context of the chain of activities all driving towards the realisation of the European Research Area (ERA). The focus of the conference was on excellence through ERA through creating a single labour market for researchers in Europe. The outcomes of the conference were to assess progress and to make Recommendations for further actions towards achieving ERA.

Dissemination of the conference report will be done on a number of levels. These will include:

- Presentation to the EC to support their activities in achieving the 2014 deadline for ERA.
- Presentation to the Steering Group on Human Resources and Mobility (SGHRM) as key policy makers in this area.
- Presentation to the FP7 PEOPLE Programme Committee as key stakeholders in the FP7 Marie Curie Actions programme.
- The outcomes will be sent directly to key stakeholder organisations including the EURAXESS Network, European Universities Association (EUA), EURODOC and Science Europe. In addition, those organisations that have not signed the ERA Memorandum of Understanding will be targeted.
- There will be a follow up with the broad research community based in universities, research centres (e.g. Fraunhofer, CNRS, CNR and CERTH), industry and the sectors that support research (e.g. EIRMA, FP7 National Contact Points and EURAXESS Bridgehead Organisations) through social media (e.g. LinkedIn platforms). This will focus on how the single labour market is relevant and meaningful for the research community.
- The report will be disseminated to all who attended the conference, including the European Commissioner for Research & Innovation, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, and Seán Sherlock, the Minister of State with responsibility for Research & Innovation.

APPENDIX – PRESS RELEASES

Media Release

Ireland playing its part in meeting EU targets for High Value Jobs – Minister Sherlock

Irish Presidency Conference on Researcher Careers and Mobility - http://www.iua.ie/research-innovation/rcm/

Dublin Castle, Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Ireland is playing an important part in helping the EU meet it targets for the creation of high-value jobs according to Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock TD. The Minister was speaking at a conference, hosted by the Irish Presidency of the EU, on Researcher Careers and Mobility to focus on measures to ensure the free movement of researchers and knowledge across Europe.

The conference is bringing researchers and policy makers from Europe and beyond together to discuss a number of crucial issues including: fast track immigration; open and transparent hiring policies; and upskilling researchers to increase their access to leading positions across all sectors of the economy and society.

This conference will work on practical solutions to realise Europe’s ambitions to create a “European Research Area” for the free movement of researchers and knowledge. The goal is to make Europe a more welcoming place for researchers – retaining our own and also drawing from the global talent pool. This is a cornerstone of the European Research Area policy which Ireland has adopted and implemented through the concerted efforts of government, higher education and industry.

Minister Sherlock stressed the importance of finding practical solutions to fulfilling ambitions for the European Research Area when he said: “We must foster research excellence to maintain our leading international position. We must provide pathways to enable researchers to find employment in industry where their talents can lead innovation and the development of new products and services”.

Across Europe, over 5 million jobs have been lost between 2008 and 2010. In contrast, knowledge-based jobs driven by research and innovation increased by more than 800,000. “Talent is essential to success in the race for global leadership in innovation”, the Minister said.

Speaking at the conference, the European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn stated that, “the European Research Area will help ensure a sufficient supply of highly qualified workers by offering researchers more attractive and rewarding careers, and by removing any obstacles to mobility across sectors and countries. Think of it as a "European Single Market" for research, knowledge and ideas”.

Welcoming the conference delegates, Prof Brian MacCraith, President Dublin City University said: “the Irish universities are convinced that open recruitment, high quality doctoral training and researcher career development are all extremely important in driving excellence and maintaining Ireland’s global reputation as an innovation hub”.

In a lively programme of interactive sessions, delegates will be invited to discuss topics such as how to support researchers in making the transition to from college lab to industry, and preparing PhD students for a wide range of employment opportunities. There will be a focus on connecting a nation to its research diaspora, drawing on the progress made by Ireland through the Wild Geese Network of Irish Scientists.

For more information contact: Lia O’Sullivan, Communications Manager, Irish Universities Association.

Phone: 085 7141414 email: lia.osullivan@iua.ie.

Media Release

One-stop shop for research jobs and funding opportunities for business launched

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

An important new web resource for business detailing R&D funding opportunities and jobs was launched today by Minister for Research and Innovation, Mr. Sean Sherlock TD.

The new resource is an extension of the www.euraxess.ie portal and is specifically dedicated to business.

The portal brings together a number of important resources that companies can access directly:

- Advertise vacancies
- Search an online database of researcher CVs
- Access the fast track research visas system, and
- Search for funding support opportunities

The new R&D funding search facility allows businesses to search in real-time for all national and European funding supports for their business and research activities. This will address a common industry concern that this information is both fragmented and difficult to access.

Minister Sherlock said: “This great new resource will give a boost to research and development and clearly demonstrates that when it comes to innovation, Ireland is open for business. Businesses have specifically asked for a one-stop shop for these queries and that is exactly what this new portal does. ”

The portal has been developed by the Irish Universities Association (IUA) EURAXESS office which is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the European Commission. It is the first of its kind in the wider European EURAXESS network.

The European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, underlined the importance of this new service, “This new Industry User Interface will make EURAXESS Ireland more attractive to industry. We will be exploring the possibility of rolling this out to other countries so that business users across Europe will have a tailored interface including both job and funding opportunities”.

Ends:

For more information contact:

Jennifer Cleary, EURAXESS Ireland Office, Irish Universities Association.

Phone; 01 6764948 email: jennifer.cleary@iua.ie

Notes for Editors

Based in the Irish Universities Association (IUA), EURAXESS Ireland was established in 2004 with support from the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation and the European Commission. The office provides free practical support for organisations and researchers moving to higher education institutions, research organisations and companies in Ireland and throughout Europe and is linked to a European network of over 200 EURAXESS mobility centres in 40 countries across Europe.

EURAXESS Ireland advertises jobs and funding opportunities for Higher Education Institutions and industry and provides access to a CV database where researchers upload their profiles and employers search for suitable candidates.

EURAXESS Ireland implements a fast track immigration scheme for researchers from outside of Europe. Over the last six years 1,750 researchers have come to Ireland under this Hosting Agreement scheme. There are over 42 organisations using the scheme including universities, institutes of technology, research institutions and private sector companies.

EURAXESS Ireland also promotes the Brazilian ‘Science Without Borders’ scheme, a key national service that will help attract 600 Brazilian PhD students to Ireland over the next three years.

MEDIA RELEASE

15th May 2013

Fast-Track “Scientific Visa” attracts talented researchers to Ireland to boost innovation

Launch of study: “Attracting Researchers to Ireland: The Impact of the Scientific Visa”

Ireland’s reputation as an innovation hub has been given a boost by the introduction of a fast-track scientific visa, a new survey of internationally mobile researchers reveals. The European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Ms. Máire Geoghegan Quinn launched the findings of the survey at the Irish Presidency conference on Researcher Careers and Mobility held at Dublin Castle on Tuesday May 14th.

Over the last six years, 1,720 researchers from 78 different countries have come to Ireland using the fast track Scientific Visa which is part of the Commission drive to create a European Research Area. The scheme offers a free and fast service for both educational institutions and companies. By registering for a hosting agreement participants can benefit from accelerated procedures for research staff coming from overseas. As a result, visas are issued rapidly and work permits are not required. A further attraction is the fact that researchers’ families can accompany them immediately and avail of public schooling.

The scheme is operated by the EURAXESS Ireland office based in the Irish Universities Association (IUA) and supported by government through the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation, and with the close involvement of immigration authorities.

The recent IUA EURAXESS Ireland Office survey involved over 300 researchers who have participated in the scheme. The top satisfaction rating was given to the significant reduction of the length of the immigration process. EURAXESS Ireland statistics show that on average the process takes a maximum of 2 weeks, with the majority of visas being processed in two to four weeks. Prior to the introduction of the scheme the average processing time was six to eight weeks.

The survey revealed that 23% of researchers would definitely not have come to Ireland if the scheme were not in place. Another 53% said they might have decided not to choose Ireland for the next step in their research career without this facility. Only 24% would have come regardless of the immigration process. This shows clearly that immigration issues are a key deciding factor in locational decisions.

Speaking at the launch Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said, “The publication demonstrates the remarkable success of Ireland’s participation in the Scientific Visa after opting voluntarily to implement the Third Country Directive in 2007. As many as one quarter of researchers using the scheme said they would definitely not have come to Ireland if this fast track immigration were not in place. So it really is a crucial initiative.”

There are over 40 organisations using the fast track scheme including universities, institutes of technology, research organizations and companies with over half of the researchers involved coming from China, the USA and India. Universities are significantly the largest users of the scheme at over 80%, with many researchers now involved in joint university-industry research activities supported by government through Science Foundation Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.

Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock TD commended the scheme saying: “the openness of Ireland’s research and innovation system is greatly boosted by this initiative. I hope that the scheme will continue to expand and I hope to see its take-up, especially by our innovative export sector, increase further in the coming years”.

For more information contact:
Lia O’Sullivan, Communications Manager, Irish Universities Association.
Phone; 085 7141414 email: lia.osullivan@iua.ie

List of Websites:
http://www.iua.ie/research-innovation/rcm/

The Researcher Careers and Mobility Conference was organised by the Irish Universities Association in collaboration with the European Commission Directorate for Research & Innovation and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation.

IUA is located at 48 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.
Telephone + 353 1 6764849.
Conference Email: info@iua.ie

Conference Director: Dr. Conor O'Carroll