Closing the skills gap for young researchers through innovation and entrepreneurship training
The EU-funded project SKIES (SKilled, Innovative and Entrepreneurial Scientists) will train astronomy graduate students in transferable skills for academia and industry. SKIES integrates open science, social innovation and entrepreneurship topics. The project kicked off on 1 March and will run for 18 months.
Innovative thinking and knowledge of open science are assets for any research career. However, given that approximately 10% of astronomy doctoral graduates will remain in academia, there is a real need to ensure that the skills graduate students are equipped with can be transferred effectively to the workforce and a skills gap is averted. The employment opportunities of graduate students can be enhanced through knowledge of entrepreneurship by bringing a range and depth of expertise beyond traditional academic programmes to employers. Graduates can then utilise this additional expertise in careers benefitting both the public and private sectors.
500 graduate students
SKIES will be implemented in astronomy research organisations in Germany, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and South Africa, reaching 500 astronomy graduate students and young researchers. A Train-the-Trainer programme will build the capacity of the teaching staff in each partner country so that they have the knowledge and tools to continue the programme beyond the lifetime of the project.
Astronomy is an open, collaborative and international research field, training students in diverse skills ranging from theoretical approaches and big-data science to observations and laboratory work. This presents a unique opportunity to build on the existing programme and integrate a modern skills course. The SKIES training will consist of three modules co-created by academic and industry partners: one on open science and Responsible Research and Innovation; one on open innovation and entrepreneurship; and a career-oriented masterclass including mentoring. To support the project partners and other organisations interested in running similar courses, online training will be made available in the form of a mini Online Open Course (mOOC). This mOOC will remain available after the project has ended to ensure its impact and legacy.
Sustainable Development Goals
SKIES is a project of the International Astronomical Union’s European Regional Office of Astronomy for Development (IAU E-ROAD). It aspires to contribute to sustainable development and the United Nations’s Sustainable Development Goals through astronomy with a special focus on education and capacity building. The skills training of SKIES falls under the strategic goals regarding capacity building, by training a generation of astronomers that will conduct responsible and open research, and is able to employ their skills for societal and economical benefit in non-academic settings.
The Leiden-based IAU E-ROAD will develop the training modules, in cooperation with the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship, Stichting dotSPACE and five astronomy higher education institutes.