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Polish ERA Mobility and Career Days

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PL-ERADays (Polish ERA Mobility and Career Days)

Reporting period: 2017-04-03 to 2018-03-02

Skilled, well-trained young scientists who conduct high quality research and generate new knowledge and market solutions are drivers of innovation that boost economic growth. In order for the young generations to be effective in their research professions, it is of great importance that the European countries take various measures to improve career prospects and working conditions of the scientists. The idea of the PL-ERA Days project was to contribute to the European strategy of building the European Research Area as a favourable environment supporting research and innovation that is perceived as the place for conducting the best research and for developing an attractive and sustainable research profession. The main project aim was to raise awareness about complexity and significance of developing the research profession among individual researchers, their future employers from different sectors, authorities at different levels as well as the entire society.
The core part of the project, namely the Polish Mobility and Career Days were organised from 10th till 26th October 2017 in 6 Polish cities: Warszawa, Krakow, Poznan, Gliwice/ Katowice and Lodz, under a leading slogan “Scientist - sounds good!”. Their purpose was to help young researchers better plan their professional paths and show various opportunities and tools they can use for free to boost their career development. Each events lasted 3 days and each day addressed different themes and included varied forms of knowledge transfer – from presentations to workshops and face-to-face discussions with experts from different fields and sectors. All events attracted almost 1000 students interested in pursuing a research path, PhD candidates and PhD holders from all over the country. The number of experts helping young researchers to shape their career path reached almost 150.

The first days “Scientist - sounds good! included discussions in small groups focused on different career-related topics such as research funding, job recruitment, effective publishing, building scientific networks or science popularisation. The participants had the possibility to seek advice from experienced Polish researchers who implemented various grants which helped them to shape successful professional paths. The second days organized under ‘Step out of the box – from academia to private sector’ motto focused on collaboration with non-academic sector and included speeches or debates with its representatives who were talking about needs and expectations of the sector towards scientists as well as about working conditions offered. This part was followed by small interactive workshops with topics such as research commercialisation, planning cooperation with companies, intellectual property rights, CV writing. The trainers came mainly from the private companies, business and administration. The third days included whole-day career building workshops devoted to practical skills useful for research careers such as self-presentation, public speaking, project management, presenting research results.

A national seminar for 55 Polish institutions (universities, research institute) awarded with the European “HR Excellence in Research” logo was organised in Warsaw in December 2017. It enabled exchange of best practices and ideas related to implementing European HR strategy in and to encourage these institutions to create even more attractive working conditions, recruitment procedures and career prospects for researchers in Poland.

Another important element fitting the whole project idea was a survey carried out among young researchers and career experts in Poland with an objective of collecting their opinions on the challenges they face as scientists and solutions that could be introduced to facilitate research effectiveness of young people. Based on the results provided by 477 respondents a report has been prepared and made available to policy makers and stakeholders.

In parallel to the above events, a national large-scale communication campaign was carried out with an aim of encouraging young researchers to take up scientific careers and reaching the general public with a message about the significance of the research profession. The campaign lasted 2 months and involved appearances of project coordinator, partners and event Ambassadors – 5 successful scientists chosen to present their stories to inspire young researchers. It resulted in 5 TV and 25 radio broadcasts, 5 press and nearly 40 on-line publications and about 200 posts in social media. It reached over, 50 000 researchers and 500 journalists. The value of the Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) is about 60 000 euro.
The partners created 5 websites of the regional events and 1 main webpage for the whole initiative. One of their elements was a list of various online career supporting materials: 4 guides to career planning; 3 infographics about EURAXESS portal, MSC grants offer for PhD students and HR award. A video clip promoting career planning and EURAXESS was well received by journalists and researchers.
As a part of the communication campaign a unique and innovative mobile game based on gamification principles was designed for mobile phones and tablets. The users of the application “Play.projectscientist” could get familiar with the EURAXESS initiative and at the end participate in a competition to win a prize. A snappy banner and posters with QR code were developed for the promotional purpose and easier access during the project events.
The project idea was to contribute to discussions on the subject of research careers at different levels and for a longer term. The involvement of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education and other important bodies helped to open a discussion at the national level among the policy makers and organisations shaping the research landscape in Poland. The project activities took place in parallel to the preparation stage of a new act on higher education which one of the key objectives is to prepare young generation to work in modern, innovative society, research and economy. The results and conclusions collected during the project serve as valuable recommendations when creating national policies related to researchers’ careers and related funding.

Another long-term outcome is that the young researchers learned about the different skills and competencies needed for professional development required by different sectors as well as about opportunities and tools they can use in order to have a better access to research funding and information on how to become successful in research careers. Various supporting materials will be incorporated into the Polish EURAXESS website, career development section as well as available on the EURAXESS network institutional websites. During the project period its main website counted a total number of 8,122 page views. The 5 websites of the regional events were more than 56 000 times viewed by more than 21 000 visitors. The EURAXESS Poland portal was the most frequently visited EURAXESS portal in 2017 among all the 37 European portals amounting to 31,687 users, 49,920 sessions and 165,791 page views in 2017, more than double in comparison with 2016.