The Prosper Portal, now freely available to all, is the online hub for all developed content and resources.
Prosper's 3 pillars
Prosper is unique and is underpinned by 3 pillars.
Co-creation with employers
We've worked closely with over 100 employer partners to shape and inform our resources, and ensure Prosper's relavence to the opportunities and demands of the wider economic landscape. Through working directly with employers, we've ensured that Prosper exposes postdocs to a broad range of career opportunities, provided real-world insights into roles beyond academia. and equipped postdocs with the mindsets and competencies to thrive in a range of careers (learn more about our partnerships with employers). We have co-created a set of 12 career clusters with over 80 employers which we believe represent some of the key areas of opportunity for postdocs and which we use to structure key development interventions.
Democratisation of access
Delivering culture change is impossible without democratising access. Our society is a diverse one, and the postdoc community is no different in its depth and breadth of members, backgrounds and experiences. Our own research has shown that many postdocs want to engage with development activities but whether because of caring responsibilities, lack of managerial support or other barriers, they've felt unable to engage with what's on offer. Serious consideration for how we could avoid traditional barriers and open up new ways of delivering career development for postdocs was central to how we created Prosper. Our two pilot cohorts were carefully selected to ensure that they reflected the diversity of the UK postdoc population (learn more about our pilot cohorts).
Recognising the role of Principal Investigators
We recognise the critical role Principal Investigators have to play in nurturing postdoc potential and empowering postdocs to engage in meaningful career development. It's part of Prosper's role to collaborate with PIs, working with them to develop the resources, approaches and peer support they need to bring out the very best in their postdocs.
Through our PI Network and related activities, we work with PIs to equip them with the tools and support they need to optimise their own researcher management practices, and to share best practice with other PIs (learn more about the role of Principal Investigators in Prosper).
Tried and tested
Prosper is tried and tested.
Prosper was launched in October 2019. In June 2020, we launched our initial set of development resources via the prototype Prosper portal available just to our partner institutions. These resources were organised around the three key themes of "Reflect", "Explore" and "Act", and included a suite of curated self-reflection tools, case studies from former postdocs, PIs and employers, and resources which supported postdocs to idenify their skills and to showcase these to a range of employers.
In March 2021, following an extensive recruitment and selection process 53 University of Liverpool postdocs joined the first year-long Prosper pilot. Participants gained access to a range of additional resources and initiatives, including individual and group coaching, a peer buddy scheme, comissioned development interventions across the key themes of "leadership", "creativity", "communication", and insights into the broad range of career opportunities beyond academia curated around a set of "career clusters".
In February 2022, Prosper went multi-institutional. We launched the second Prosper pilot, comprising 75 postdocs from the Universities of Liverpool, Manchester and Lancaster. The second pilot came to a successful close in February 2023, with a virtual celebration event bringing together our cohort 2 postdocs, PIs and stakeholders to mark the occasion.
Both pilot cohorts were evaluated through extensive feedback collection. The lessons learned from our first pilot played a critical role in shaping the contents and resources on offer in our second. Similarly, the evaluation and impact of Prosper on the second cohort have shaped the final approach and the Prosper portal.
In addition to resources for postdocs and Principal Investigators, the offering includes additional materials and guidance for Higher Education Institutions, designed to enable organisations to use Prosper in a flexible way, according to their varying needs and internal resources. This builds on extensive collaboration along the way with the wider UK HE sector, working with research funders, research staff and organisational developers at institutions across the country to ensure that Prosper is fit for purpose, adaptable to the diverse needs of the UK postdoc community, and to support early adoption following our national rollout. If you're keen to get your organisation involved, please do get in touch!
The portal was redeveloped and launched freely to the sector in late-summer 2023, drawing together all of the outputs from our two pilot cohorts, alongside our work with employers and Principal Investigators.
Prosper secured an additional £450k from UKRI to support its mission to embed Prosper at Higher Education and research institutions up and down the country, and ensure its availability across the UK.
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