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EPSRC & ESRC Internship Pilot


The OPdA and the Careers Service recently launched a pilot internship scheme specifically for postdocs funded by the EPSRC or ESRC. It is widely recognised that tenured academic job prospects for postdoctoral staff are limited (30% nationally) and funders are rapidly realising that opportunities to develop a wide range of skills can provide substantial added value when postdocs apply for posts, academic and otherwise. This new pilot scheme is to encourage postdocs working on projects funded by the EPSRC or ESRC to seek work experience outside of their research group by undertaking work pertinent to their grant, either directly related or collaborative.

Funding is available to cover salary and travel costs for postdocs to spend 2-4 weeks working in a different environment that is related to the postdocs’ research area.  This might be gaining experience in a company working on similar technology, or an organisation in which the postdoc’s research might be used or translated into policy.

Postdocs themselves are being asked to find suitable companies in this pilot study and to have obtained agreement prior to applying for internship funding.

It is possible that a postdoc’s contract could be extended with the grant funding saved for the time spent away, if this is wanted.  If there are visa issues, the OPdA can assist with these. The funding typically is to accommodate up to four weeks placement but cases will be considered for more or less time. While part-time internships may be considered, it generally is felt that these would be less desirable since one aim of the scheme is to allow more continuous  “immersion” in a company to better understand and appreciate the different dynamics.

Application deadline: 6 February 2017.

If you are funded by the EPSRC or ESRC and are interested, apply via the online form here.

Further background

Over the last few years, there has been a 29% increase in the number of postdoctoral staff being recruited to short-term contracts in research roles. This is a global phenomenon and although it is increasing the University’s capacity to undertake significant research, it has saturated the market for tenured academic jobs. Postdocs are increasingly frustrated by the lack of academic progression and opportunities, and many Universities are exploring ways to help staff find alternative careers that are equally fulfilling in various ways. These include the development of extended skills to help postdocs to be “more attractive” either for the limited academic posts available or for employment in other diverse sectors e.g. within industry and non-profit organisations. The OPdA regularly organises events to promote such greater skills awareness and the opportunity of the pilot internship scheme is a further way to extend this.

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