Millennium Docs Programme Promotes the Employment and Competence of Researchers in Natural Sciences and Technology
The University of Turku, Åbo Akademi University and Technology Academy Finland TAF have launched a pilot programme that aims to develop collaboration and networking between universities and business life. The programme offers the best expertise and topical knowledge to companies and organisations, and employment opportunities and a chance to utilise their competence to doctoral candidates.
In 2018, a record number of 194 doctors graduated from the University of Turku, 52 of whom from the Faculty of Science and Engineering. So that academic expertise is extensively present in the different sectors of society, the University of Turku ensures that different kinds of modules that promote the career of the doctoral candidate according to their wishes can be included in doctoral training: both courses and work periods abroad or in business life.
– Working in a research centre abroad is an excellent way to promote internationalisation and to broaden your views. Furthermore, more and more often these days working in a relevant company is an excellent way to improve doctoral candidates’ working life skills. The interaction benefits both parties: the company gets new drive to their activities and the doctoral candidate gets first-hand experience in business life, says Director of the University of Turku Graduate School UTUGS, Professor Pirjo Nuutila.
There is room and need for doctors in business life as only six percent of research work carried out in companies is conducted by employees holding a doctorate.
Millennium Docs Programme Helps in Providing Latest Information to Companies
It can be challenging for doctoral candidates to find an outside organisation offering a work period. The Technology Academy Finland TAF wants to facilitate the situation and has established the Millennium Docs (MDocs) programme together with the Faculties of Science and Engineering of the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University.
– With the programme, TAF aims to improve mobility between sectors as well as the collaboration and networking of universities and business life. The MDocs programme offers an excellent opportunity for the employing organisation to learn more about the best academic expertise and topical knowledge. The goal of the programme is to both increase the employment of graduates outside academia and improve the utilisation of their competence in society, says Chief Operating Officer of TAF Eeva Sievi.
The idea behind MDocs is simple: companies and other organisations outside the academia employ doctoral candidates close to completing their degree for 1–3 months. The recruitment is coordinated with job advertisements on the MDocs website. The employer selects the employees and is responsible for the salaries.
Before the work period, the doctoral candidate and their supervisor define the learning goals for the period and their fulfilment is discussed after the employment. The doctoral candidate also gets credits towards their degree from the work period. The doctoral candidate works in the position defined by the company and the purpose of the employment is not to directly support the dissertation research but to offer a chance to experience working life outside the academia.
PoDoCo Programme Increases the Mobility of Postdoc Researchers
MDocs complements other projects that promote researcher mobility between sectors. Since 2015, the Post Docs in Companies (PoDoCo) programme has enabled research initiatives between postdoctoral researchers and companies with a joint funding from foundations and companies. In the Turku region, PoDoCo researchers have worked, for example, at Orion, Meyer Turku and Mirka (click the links to read participants’ stories).
The presentation of the MDocs and PoDoCo programmes on Monday, 28 January 2019 gathered together fifty interested doctoral candidates and postdoc researchers from the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University to hear more about the initiatives and researchers’ experiences on working in business life alongside academia. The conversation was lively and the participants were interested in the programmes but the practical challenges raised some concern.
– The goal is to the develop the programmes so that they support working life skills and employment in the best possible way while companies learn to utilise academic expertise even better than before, said Dean Tapio Salakoski of the Faculty of Science and Engineering.
The presentation of the programmes was held on 28 January 2019. In the picture from the left: Professor Yrjö Neuvo, Aalto University, Chief Operating Officer Eeva Sievi, TAF, and Education Manager Sanna Ranto, Dean Tapio Salakoski and Associate Proffessor Filip Ginter from the University of Turku.
Text: Elise Pinta
Photo: Pirjo Nuutila