Endorsement of QUASAR-developed approach to complementary skills training

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Training in transferable skills that complement the technical research activities of post graduate researchers improves their professionalism and is essential for enhancing their employability. The complementary skills training developed by Prof. Carsten Welsch in collaboration with the PGR Development team around Dr. Richard Hinchcliffe and Dr. David Joss of the University of Liverpool has been applied and evolved through the QUASAR-coordinated European projects DITANET, LA³NET and oPAC. Following this successful implementation the approach was adopted as part of best practice for PGR training by the University. With further interest in the programme generated following presentations given at the national HEA Learning and Teaching Conference last year a workshop was organised by the EU Project TEAM at the Cockcroft Institute to disseminate this approach as best practice. The workshop entitled ‘Enhancing the employability skills of postgraduate researchers (PGRs)’ was delivered on the 11th June attracting delegates from all over the country.

The aim of the workshop was to stimulate thought and discussion about improving the effectiveness of PGR skills training by making it more relevant for the researchers undergoing the training. The context of the requirements of employers for candidates with broad skills training was presented. The programme developers were joined by Dr. Paul Yates (HEA), Dr. Rosa Letizia (Lancaster University), Dr. Rob Ashworth and Rita Galan (Liverpool) to talk about the programme in the context of the need for this novel practical approach to PGR skills training. The perspective of researchers from the receiving end of the training was given by other members of the QUASAR Group Blaine Lomberg (Liverpool) and Dr. Adam Jeff (CERN).

In the final session contributions from delegates were encouraged and different aspects of PGR training were discussed in order to identify recommendations for best practice. This built on the lively informal discussions that had developed during the coffee and lunch breaks. A special thanks to Helen Williams for ensuring that the day ran smoothly to create an atmosphere conducive to the active participation of delegates.