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Transferable Skills and Competences for Early Career Researchers (ECR) – The most common way of documenting them a transferable skills portfolio

This report identifies transferable skills and competencesa relevant for early career researchers to gather during their doctoral training program and beyond, in order to increase their employability in multiple work sectors. A skills matrix and infographic (see Appendix) with nine different categories, containing a total of 66 transferable skills and competences, is presented. Advice on how to acquire and document these skills and competences is provided.


Transferable skills and competences can be acquired by Early Career Researchersb (ECR) to be used during their doctoral training but are not necessarily related to research. These skills, such as effective communication, time and project management, and leadership, are typically learned in one context, e.g. research, but suitable to be used in many other 31 contexts . With these skills, ECRs might contribute to more impactful research , while building a competitive professional profile. Transferable skills combined with original research skills can increase ECRs’ employability and allow them to engage different career 3 paths, widening their options in the academic, governmental, and private sector .

In this report, we use both terms, transferable skills and competences, to capture the diversity of skills, knowledge, and qualities that enable people to master various challenges.

(1) How to use this document

This document is intended to be a guide for ECRs when self-assessing their own set of skills. With the help of this document, ECRs should be able to:
● Recognise and identify the skills and competences that they already have and have been developing while carrying out their research;
● Make a case to justify and document the existence of these skills and competences to others, such as future employers.

(2) How to acquire relevant transferable skills and competences

The acquisition of transferable skills and competences can come in many forms. Skills can be acquired through formal training courses provided by higher education institutions but is not limited to well-defined courses and professional accreditations. Many transferable skillscan be obtained through what is commonly termed as «learning-by-doing», such as work-based learning, internships, and extracurricular experiences . For example, teaching and mentorship skills can be obtained by running workshops, holding lectures, and supervising or mentoring students. Many transferable skills and competences also require continuous learning and development, which can be performed through a variety of experiences and contexts, e.g. through extracurricular activities outside the work environment. Family, social interactions, hobbies, and volunteer work can all potentially contribute to transferable skills development, e.g. group sports activities can help attain team-working skills .

Many discussions can be found in the literature about the various ways of learning and education for transferable skills. However, these discussions are not the main objective of this document and therefore are not integrated into this report.

(3) How to document transferable skills and competences

Regardless how the respective skills and competences were acquired, e.g. formal training courses, work experience, hobbies, the most common way of documenting them is by compiling a transferable skills portfolio. Such a portfolio could be described as a collection of materials e.g. diplomas, certificates, examples of various outputs, put together to demonstrate the acquisition and development of a transferable skill-set. The documentation should follow the STAR principle, describing 1) the Situation where a specific transferable skill was acquired, 2) the Tasks that was fulfilled, 3) the Action that was taken and 4) the Result that was achieved. In order to fulfil its purpose, such a portfolio should always be kept up-to-date, which will help the individual to plan the acquisition and development of transferable skills and competences. Portfolio assessment is the internationally most widely accepted way of documenting competences in e.g. pedagogy or medical professions.

The advice on how to build paper-based or electronic portfolios is rather extensive and beyond the purpose of this report. Thus, we suggest the reader interested in developing such a portfolio to consult available resources. That being said, we would like to
emphasise that it is crucial to ensure proof of all activities, outputs, or other experiences that demonstrate an acquired transferable skill or competence. Therefore, the first important practical step towards a portfolio is the collection of all relevant materials in both paper and digital form, such as signed documents stating skill or competence, teaching evaluation forms, course certificates, presentations used for teaching, or video and audio material, to name a few.

(4) Transferable skills and competences

The transferable skills and competences found relevant for enhancing the employability and competitiveness of ECRs are in the infographic, without any claim for completeness. Note that the same skill might belong to two or more categories at the same time but was mentioned in only one category for simplicity.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ PRESS RELEASE: Eurodoc Report on ‘Transferable Skills and Competences’ | Eurodoc

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