Australian Researchers’ Mobility Portal

Wednesday 22nd August 2007

Activities focussing on developing European science’s human resources saw a number of developments in 2006, according to a report by the European Commission. These included: more than 170 institutions signing up to the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for their recruitment; more than 1,000 jobs a month on the European Researcher’s Mobility Portal; a support service — ERA-MORE — answering more than 25,000 questions from scientists about moving to or within the EU to carry out their research; the continued success of “European Researchers’ Night” with more than 100 towns taking part in 21 countries, with 100,000 participants.

“Europe needs more research” commented European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik. “But we will never have more research without more researchers. Here at the European Commission we are working to provide services to researchers to make their lives easier, and we are trying to encourage people to consider science as a career option. I’m very pleased to see that our various initiatives are enjoying considerable success.”

Excellent human resources and their movement around Europe are vitally important for successful research and innovation. The European Union has clearly stated its objective of a single, open and competitive European labour market for researchers. To this end, the European Commission defined measures aiming at creating a more favourable European labour market for researchers. The recently published “Mobility of Researchers and Career Development Implementation Report 2006” highlights the activities undertaken during 2006 at national and European level to create a Europe of Knowledge. The 2006 report is proof of the progress achieved so far.

To make the EU labour market for researchers more transparent, the European Commission launched in 2003 the European Researcher’s Mobility Portal, a one-stop shop for researchers seeking to advance their careers and personal development by moving to other countries. In addition to the information on training and jobs, this electronic gateway is the entry point to practical information on living, working and relaxing in all the European countries involved. This portal advertises about 1,000 jobs per month and the number of visitors to the site is constantly growing. The European Network of Mobility Centres, ERA-MORE provides assistance to researchers and their families moving from one country to another. It is composed of more than 200 Mobility Centres in 32 countries, complemented by numerous local contact points, and assisted some 17,000 researchers between September and December 2006 alone.

To help make research an attractive career, the European Commission adopted 2 instruments in 2005: the European Charter for researchers (general principles and requirements specifying the roles, responsibilities and entitlements of researchers as well as of employers and/or funders) and a Code of Conduct for their Recruitment (principles and requirements that should be followed by employers and/or funders when appointing or recruiting researchers). The 2006 report shows that now nearly 200 organisations, representing over 800 institutions in 23 countries, have so far signed the European Charter and Code.

With a European research community abroad growing steadily, networking European researchers is becoming a vital feature. This need led to the launch of the ERA-link initiative in June 2006, which enables European researchers abroad to interact, be kept informed, build links amongst them as well as bridge to Europe. ERA-LINK in the US currently has 3,000 members and is growing steadily. The European Commission is now considering extending the model to other countries, such as Japan.

The Commission continued to support Europe’s researchers throughout 2006 with the Marie Curie actions, part of the 6th Framework Programme. In 2006 the number of project submissions under the Marie Curie actions increased to more than 5,000 projects. A total of 600 individuals benefited from the different fellowship schemes. Some 800 European research organisations received support under the Research Training Networks and in addition, more than 3,200 events for approximately 93,000 researchers were held, covering a broad range of research topics.

All these efforts have led to real progress but challenges still exist and, even in areas where things have been moving in the right direction, too many barriers remain. The Commission therefore made a number of suggestions in its Green Paper “The European Research Area: New Perspectives”. This paper is currently undergoing wide public consultation and debate and based on this, the European Commission would hope to be able to make specific proposals early in 2008. The Portuguese Presidency has identified the need to improve human resources in research as a priority of its 6-month Presidency of the EU.