Research staff broaden their horizons at a regional career management event

On the 18th of December 2013 we hosted the Broadening Horizons event at the University of Liverpool as part of the Liverpool Research Staff Development Programme.

32 research staff (primarily postdocs) from the north-west region (Universities of Liverpool, Manchester, Liverpool John Moores and Manchester Metropolitan) attended a full day event and were involved in activities providing them with the opportunity to reflect on their career aspirations within and outside academia. The event endorses the 2008 Concordat to support the career development of researchers, namely by demonstrating the importance for researchers to be proactive in planning and pursuing an engaging and rewarding career.

Structure of the event and feedback

During the event, participants were assigned in groups of between six and seven members and they participated in activities that provided opportunities for discussing career options with their peers, reflecting on their current role and developing personalised strategies to pursue their career ambitions. Throughout the day, participants were encouraged to be open-minded in their plans whilst remaining realistic and being supported by their peers and tutors.

Collecting the views of participants at the end of the day, research staff felt that the event gave them the space and the opportunity to reflect on their current roles and to start developing their plans for their future career aims. Many researchers felt that their future appears to be linked directly to a career in academia, whilst others were keen to explore options beyond academia (including industry, self-employment and academic related jobs in Higher Education) by utilising expertise they acquired in previous and current roles.

Wider implications for Liverpool Research Staff

We believe this structured event has the potential to provide a useful framework for developing similar types of events to support the career development of research staff at the University of Liverpool. We plan to look in to this in more detail as part of the work we do at the University of Liverpool through the Concordat Implementation Group.

With input from appropriate faculty representatives and with the valuable expertise of line managers, academic and industry staff, elements of the Broadening Horizons event have the potential to be shaped into an effective career support mechanism for Liverpool Researchers that can complement existing processes such as the Professional and Development Review (PDR) and the central development framework available to them. This is a topic we plan to discuss and explore further at upcoming Concordat Implementation Group meetings. Outcomes of this discussion will be communicated to the wider University via the website and good practice events.

For more information about this event, please email: c.petichakis@liv.ac.uk

The course was supported by the Vitae NorthWest Hub and the Liverpool Research Staff Development programme. The tutors were: Dr Emma Gillaspy – Vitae North West Hub Manager and Postgraduate Researcher Development Lead in the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences at the University of Manchester; Dee-Ann Johnson – Communications Officer, EPS Graduate and Researcher Development at the University of Manchester; Dr Christos Petichakis – from the research staff development programme at the University of Liverpool.