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Championing A Multi-Sectoral Education and Learning Experience to Open New Pathways for Doctoral Students

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CHAMELEONS (Championing A Multi-Sectoral Education and Learning Experience to Open New Pathways for Doctoral Students)

Reporting period: 2020-03-01 to 2020-11-30

Typically, less than half of doctoral graduates will be employed in academia immediately after graduation. Current doctoral curricula are failing to foster big thinkers and creative problem-solvers, graduate attributes that society needs. It is becoming apparent that there is a growing need to re-imagine a PhD education that incentivises doctoral students to engage with research consumers, not only within their discipline, but also, across other disciplines and sectors to have real social impact for an improved society. At a professional and research level, international, interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral networks are on the increase with established researchers collaborating within and across disciplines to increase and improve innovation, creativity and knowledge. More recently, this is being mirrored by the establishment of interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral doctoral research networks, the intention of which is to train PhD graduates for careers both within-and outside academia and who are equipped to address societal challenges. CHAMELEONS offers opportunities for PhD/Post-Doctoral students to further develop their skills widening their opportunities by creating a bespoke education program tailored to their own and society’s needs. Broadening PhD curricula will produce multi-skilled individuals who will be highly competitive and sought after in the job market. CHAMELEONS integrates work-based learning and business-education partnerships into doctoral programme design.The objective of CHAMELEONS is to develop new and innovative educational interventions to improve the learning experience offered by higher education with the intention of shaping more adaptable, entrepreneurial and employable graduates, ready to meet the challenges of the future. Ten years from now, jobs will be more knowledge and skills-intensive than ever before.CHAMELEONS overall aim is: To design, deliver, and evaluate a range of interdisciplinary, intersectoral and international modules that broaden PhD graduates’ skills, improve their employability in both academic and non-academic environments, and equip them to solve grand societal challenges such as those in Connected Health.
CHAMELEONS is composed of seven work packages (WP). In terms of WP1, the systematic review, the survey of post graduate students and doctoral programme directors have all been completed. A list of intersectoral courses available across the consortium has been compiled. The interviews with employers have been completed. In Work Package 2, Two module design workshops have been successfully completed via Zoom due to COVID-19. A State of the Art Tool Kit was created. In Work Package 3, Recruitment Process is Complete: 15 doctoral students from a range of areas including business, health, and sports science have been selected. ​The first CHAMELEONS Module 1 took place from the 22nd to 28th of April 2021 online, across 4 time zones. 15 doctoral students took part in this online module which included some of the courses on the course list, which can be found on the website.
A number of courses from the list, developed in Work Package1 were run throughout the Module 1. The Career mentoring process is being designed and is nearing completion. In Work Package 5. The CHAMELEONS project website has been published www.chameleonsproject.eu. Two CHAMELEONS social media accounts have been created in Twitter (www.twitter.com/chameleons_eu) and in Instagram (www.instagram.com/chameleons_eu). A number of PhD graduates have submitted blogs which have been posted on the website.The CHAMELEONS project blog was created in June 2020 and can be found in www.chameleonsproject.eu/blog. A flyer has been designed and is available on the project website. Three conference presentations will be a made in June 2021, one at the END conference and two at HEA'd conference.
CHAMELEONS is creating a new European model for PhD training combining interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral training in an end-to-end applied research spectrum. Modules are taking place in academic, industry and clinical/healthcare settings and have been co-designed and delivered by representatives and stakeholders of all three sectors. Graduates from the program will bring the latest knowledge and ideas to their employers and provide the necessary insider understanding, contacts and credibility to forge effective connections with academia. This model, once proven, will be transferable to other European training programs outside CHAMELEONS as described in the above section on closing the skills gap.
Quantitative and qualitative tracking will continue after CHAMELEONS is completed. CHAMELEONS module designs are can be accessed and downloaded from CHAMELEONS resource portal by actors from multiple sectors, disciplines and geographies
CHAMELEONS graduates and PIs are presenting the CHAMELEONS model at institutions/conferences internationally. CHAMELEONS graduates will remain connected and can continue to feedback.
CHAMELEONS aims to open up career paths for doctoral graduates outside academia. There may be a need for more effective communication of the value of employing doctoral graduates in certain roles and sectors in order to maximize both the opportunities available to doctoral graduates themselves and the benefits of their skills to employers and the economy. Career guidance will help them to navigate these wide-ranging opportunities to channel their focus on careers in and outside academia that best suit their career objectives and personal and research strengths and interests. CHAMELEONS will narrow the skills gap that exists between those needed by PhD graduates who stay in academia, and those who pursue a career outside academia.
The Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills highlights that technological progress and globalization are revolutionizing the way we live, learn, work and do business. Sector-specific skills solutions are called for, based on an industry-led, three-step approach:1) Collect evidence of skills gaps and their potential impact on growth, innovation and competitiveness; 2) Translate sectoral strategy into forecasts and actions on jobs and skills; 3) Roll-out EU sectoral partnerships at national and regional level and expand to more sectors. A report commissioned by the UK Research Council and others has shown that employers value doctoral graduates’ deep specialist subject knowledge, excellent research and analytical skills, their capacity for critical thinking, as well as their ability to bring fresh perspectives to problems or the organization. These skills enable doctoral graduates to innovate, developing new or improved goods, services, processes and ways of working. The evidence shows how doctoral graduates can boost the profile and credibility of an organization, help acquire new clients and income streams, improve profitability and increase sustainability, while at the same time enhancing competitiveness and innovative outputs.
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