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Transferable Skills Development

Please read the RCUK statement outlining the way in which the Research Councils expect research organisations to take forward the agenda stimulated by the recommendation of the Roberts Review - Becoming a Researcher and Developing a Research Career.

Key facts

The Roberts Agenda

The 2002 SET for Success review by Sir Gareth Roberts of the supply of science and engineering skills in the UK recommended that postgraduate research students should have at least two weeks of formal training in transferable skills each year. The intention is that these skills will add to future employability as well as helping students in the course of their PhDs. The implementation of this recommendation is supported through funding from the UK Research Councils to universities and the national Vitae programme. The skills covered by this funding fall under five of the seven categories set out in the Joint Skills Statement issued by the Research Councils in 2001:

  1. C Research management
  2. D personal effectiveness
  3. E Communication skills
  4. F Networking and team working
  5. G Career management

Research-specific skills are not covered as these should form an integral part of the PhD. The route for delivering the training is left to individual universities but it occurs typically through a mixture of training events, courses and workshops at university, faculty, school or departmental level.

STFC encourages the students it funds to take up these training opportunities as they will help students to manage their research project and better communicate their findings as well as improving future employability, whether in academia, the private sector or elsewhere.

STFC expects Research Organisations to encourage and support students in developing their career options and that the provision of professional and transferable skills will form a fundamental part of doctoral training. Universities have flexibility in the use of research training grants and are expected to draw on these to cover the costs of providing professional development opportunities appropriate for the individual postgraduate researchers whose training is funded through that grant.

GRADschools and Vitae

Every year Vitae runs a small number of GRADschools for doctoral researchers and research staff. These courses are open to all researchers and have previously been funded by the Research Councils as part of the Vitae programme.

Other Vitae resources include:

Last updated: 15 September 2017


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