NCUB’s Researcher Career Mobility Taskforce has reached a key milestone in the project.  

Members came together last week to discuss emerging findings from the project, following months of intensive evidence gathering and stakeholder consultation. 

Launched in February, and endorsed by Research England, the Taskforce brings together senior leaders from academia and industry to explore ways to create more diverse career pathways for researchers that in turn create positive impacts for universities, businesses, and the UK economy. 

Early data shows that the level of cross-sector mobility that takes place throughout careers in the UK is similar to other large, complex R&D-intensive economies in Europe. Mapping the schemes that support and enable mobility found that programmes often support those in early career stages, despite mobility being least prevalent at the mid-career stage. Interviews with universities and businesses have shown that whilst valued, mobility often occurs unconsciously, and is often not formalised or measured.  

The Taskforce explored possible solutions to unlock dynamic careers and collaboration. Early themes include better defining, formalising and measuring researcher mobility, and better aligning funding and policy incentives across the research and innovation system. 

The work will continue to explore how career advice and guidance, visible role models and cross-sector partnerships can de-risk and encourage placements, and how both colocation and physical infrastructures can create opportunities for researchers across sectors to come together. 

Joint working on career mobility

The work is aligned to a wider package of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)-backed work designed to address limitations around career pathways, diversity and inclusion, research culture and skills gaps.  

Clare Viney, CEO of the Careers Research and Advisory Centre (CRAC), and Taskforce member, has offered us her reflections on the Taskforce discussions and how the project supports wider research culture initiatives.  

She said:  “The Taskforce’s progress is timely, aligning with a UKRI-commissioned and CRAC-Vitae-led project that is developing a model to help classify and group together initiatives that improve research culture.” 

CRAC-Vitae is currently working with Shift Learning and the UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN) on the model. The work will underpin a future Good Practice Exchange on research culture, a resource recommended within the Government’s 2021 Research & Development People and Culture Strategy. This set out the ambition to build the research and innovation workforce the UK needs, and the importance of a positive and inclusive culture.  

Clare added: “The projects are complementary. The CRAC-Vitae model will highlight cultures of collaboration, recognition of diverse experiences and skills, and the benefits of access to a wide range of career and professional development experiences. These are all necessary if we are to facilitate and value intersectoral mobility.” 

Next steps

The Researcher Career Mobility Taskforce consultation period will close over the coming weeks, but you can continue to engage with the team and share insights by contacting policy@ncub.co.uk  

The project, which has engaged more than 100 stakeholders, will report its findings in September through an in-person, London-based event. Details will follow.