OUTDOC is an Erasmus+ Knowledge Alliances project whose aim is contribute to the employability of PHD students in emerging areas and that will be carried out by a consortium formed by four Universities and four private companies representing countries as Spain, Slovenia, Romania and Germany.
Project OUTDOC has arisen from the awareness about the current status of young PhDs. Changes in the labour market in the last decades have shown an increased need for highly specialized personnel in all sectors, especially due to technological development. The advancements as seen in the last years will even increase in near future which will lead to additional skilled workforce needs. To prepare, the European Union has decided to work towards making higher education widely accessible. Its vision is to have citizens who will participate in learning or work mobility between different member states, which will lead to multilinguality of citizens but also to have a stronger sense of diversity between European cultures. Higher education has an important place in societal development due to its connection to research and innovation. Certain initiatives have already been implemented, such as addressing of skills mismatch, building and supporting of inclusive and efficient education systems. All these have the joint vision of improving the European HEI, which is also the task that OUTDOC project will undertake.
Furthermore, we see the need to bring attention to the emerging sectors that benefit from such employees even more due to specific skills and competencies that PhDs have. But research up to date shows that industry often does not recognize the value of PhDs and presume that they lack practical knowledge due to mostly being employed by academic institutions. Companies that already employ PhDs are in some instances more likely to employ new PhDs as they recognize the value that highly educated personnel has. Nevertheless, this project will also promote alternative ways of insertion in the labour market. We also see the great importance of connecting higher education institutions (HEI) and private companies, which will benefit the specialised society.
Another essential part of OUTDOC is its implementation in four countries from different parts of Europe. This will provide generalized results that will be enhanced in later studies. The core element of this project will be the design of a training program that will first be tested during the mobility period in partnering companies and later used in doctoral schools. The testing phase will provide industry approved contents and feedback.
This project has the mission to improve the employability of PhD holders in emerging sectors by providing them with a tailor-made training program that will improve their transferable skills. Therefore, it is necessary to identify skills that will be expected and needed by the industry in the near future. The skills will be identified by an online survey in which private companies from any European country can participate. We have decided to conduct it in five languages (English, German, Romanian Slovenian and Spanish) to obtain versatile data that could be applied to the European level.
The data will then be analysed to define a list of skills that are perceived as the most important by the employers. Later, training materials will be developed as part of a training program. These materials will be available for later reuse by other projects or HEIs. Since the basis for the design of these materials will be a study, the program will be tailor-made according to the needs of employers to better match excellently skilled PhDs with potential employers.
Comprehensive Outplacement Program (COP) will be tested by a selected group of PhDs from each participating country. They will also spend a certain mobility period at partner institutions, which will closely connect them to the industry. Through this, they will have access to mentoring by the private companies. The mobility period will also be important for the companies that will be able to coach potential employees and see the level of skills and knowledge that PhDs have. This experience will further refine the level of acquired transferable skills in PhDs, but also give employers a chance to give feedback on the training program, such as what skills should be added, what training materials should be created and what is their opinion on the overall issue of recruiting PhDs in the industry.
OUTDOC project strives for sustainability of the project results. After the project is finished, other HEI and private companies from other sectors will be invited to collaborate. It would be desirable that the training program will become part of doctoral schools at partner universities. Our long-term mission is also to cooperate with institutions from other parts of the world.
Employability of PhD
OECD estimated that by 2020, it is expected that more than 2 million jobs will be created in emerging areas. And an important percentage of those jobs will be left vacant unless we are able to address, from our Higher Education Institutions, those future demands, in terms of fostering the new skills and qualifications in our present PhD students that will be needed to access those employment opportunities in the future.
There is a compelling need to find all across Europe new job opportunities for PhD graduates, and to promote their geographical mobility to increase their employability and insertion into the labour market.
The aim of the project is contribute to the employability of PHD students in emerging areas, as renewable energies and waste management, digital sector, innovation and technology etc.
- Identify the specific skills and competences that will be demanded in the markets in the near future in regards to PhD students.
- Based on the results a Comprehensive Outplacement Program (COP) will be designed and executed.
- Design new approaches and program of learning for PhD students which might fit best future employment demands.
- Encouraging the mobility of these students and their knowledge through different European countries (3 students per university).