Periodic Reporting for period 1 - TRAINEd (TRAIN@Ed)
Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2020-05-31
Firstly, it provides a highly visible research opportunity for experienced researchers, with secure employment for three years. A lack of personal research funding for junior researchers, particularly those which bridge industry and academia have been repeatedly highlighted by reports on researcher careers in the European Union, and by researchers themselves. By emphasizing the links with industry and the transferable skill training provided, this programme will complement opportunities through ERC grants.
Secondly TRAIN@Ed addresses a major gap in opportunities for early career researchers to collaborate with industry. The European Research Area progress report (2013) noted there was a relative lack of researchers employed in industry in Europe, with the net result that many PhD graduates are ‘ill-prepared for the labour market” and innovation in industry is compromised. In TRAIN@Ed, all researchers will have the opportunity to spend time in the industry of their choice, gaining understanding of the needs of industry, tackling the challenges the industrial research sector faces, and gain the skills and experience for effective industrial collaboration.
Thirdly, TRAIN@Ed complies with best practice in supporting researcher careers. Our selection and recruitment process is and will be fully transparent: selection will be based entirely on merit, and we will encourage participation of traditionally under represented groups. Assistance in visa applications, with relocation expenses (including relocation of families), and funded provision of health care and pension contributions will also remove identified barriers to researcher mobility. Once appointed, researchers will enter a world class research programme with supportive line management from an established academic (UEDIN) and a non-academic advisor. All experienced researchers will develop a personalised career development plan (in collaboration with their advisors), which will include transferrable skill development and public engagement opportunities as well as training in state of the art research techniques and equipment.
Objective: TRAIN@Ed is a research fellowship programme for 25 experienced researchers (around 4 -6 years after gaining their primary degree) which will provide researchers with an international, interdisciplinary and intersectoral mobility experience.
Objective: The TRAIN@Ed programme will educate experienced researchers in research excellence AND transferrable skills. TRAIN@Ed Fellows will have an employment contract with the University of Edinburgh for a research fellowship for up to three years.
Objective: TRAIN@Ed fellows will pursue research and transferrable skill training at the University of Edinburgh, and will also spend some time in the industry of their choice.
Objective: The values of the scheme align with those held by Horizon 2020: Excellent Sciences, Industrial Leadership and addressing Societal Challenges, and the Marie-Skłodowska Curie Actions of providing excellent, innovative research training and career progressive and knowledge exchange and mobility opportunities. Although the focus of the TRAIN@Ed programme is in developing research skills through carrying out a research project, a holistic approach to career development of the researchers will be taken: the programme will provide mentoring, transferrable skill development (including public engagement training), and careers advice.
• 18th July 2018 – Advisory Board Meeting held
• 23rd August 2018 – First call advertised
• 1st October 2018 – Project Manager appointed
• 19th October 2018 – First call deadline, 21 applications received.
• 28th January 2019 – end of first recruitment round, 1 Fellow accepted offer.
• 12th March 2019 – Second call advertised
• 19th May – 2019 – Second call deadline, 56 applications received.
• 7th August 2019 – Second Advisory Board Meeting held
• 12th September 2019 – third call advertised
• 31st October 2019 – third call deadline, 31 applications received.
• 31st October 2019 – Project manager’s contract is terminated.
• 1st December 2019 – interim part-time project manager, Lara Isbel appointed.
• 23rd March 2020 – Covid-19 lockdown restrictions put in place by UK government.
• 1st June 2020 – 15 Fellows have started their Fellowships. 5 are still waiting on visa issues to be resolved.
Achievement: As of 31 May 2020, twenty people have accepted a TRAIN@ED Fellowship, fifteen of whom have started.
Achievement: All the TRAIN@ED Fellows who have been appointed so far have been given 3 year contracts.
Achievement: Initial cohort forming activities had started in late 2019 and early 2020 with a series of “show and tell” meetings where fellows presented their research to each other. Since March 2020 Fellows are all working remotely as a consequence of the pandemic. Training and cohort development rapidly pivoted online. A Microsoft TEAMS group was been set up for the Fellows and a bespoke online training programme began in March 2020. The commitment to delivering support to the Fellows facilitated the rapid establishment of the “Pop-Up IAD” online training library. The library of recorded workshops and supporting materials is openly available to all researchers.
All the Fellows appointed have strong links with at least one external partner organisation who are committed to the career development of the Fellow. These interactions have become virtual since remote working started, but the partner engagement with fellows remains strong.
Achievement: As noted above, the foundation for a strong cohort experience has being set. COVID restrictions have meant this has shifted online but this is working well. Online coaching, mentoring and careers advice are being offered in addition to training courses and industry visits. Fellows are actively encouraged to participate in public engagement, with a new course on online public engagement being developed for the fellows in Autumn 2020. An online summer programme is being delivered with a focus on building credibility and reputation, and developing partnerships (particularly with industry and commercial organisations).