Postgraduate Employability Event June 14th 2012

Employability in Social Policy: An Event for Postgraduate Students, June 14th 2012, the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, London School of Economics and Political Science.

Report by Sarah Brooks-Wilson

delegatesFunded by the Higher Education Academy and hosted by the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, this Social Policy Association postgraduate event was a culmination of the employability concerns that were expressed at the annual conference last year in Lincoln. Around thirty enthusiastic postgraduate delegates were welcomed from fourteen institutions both locally and as far away as Ulster and Edinburgh. Research interests were diverse, but in common was the desire to learn more about strengthening the bridge into employment.

With a highly strategic role in the policy making process, Richard Bartholomew started the day by providing an engaging presentation and subsequent discussion about the varied influence that social research has on the policy making process. Delegates were also informed about employment entry routes through the Government Social Research Service. Although an accomplished academic, Prof. John Beath’s discussion particularly related to opportunities based in the Economic and Social Research Council. Delegates were interested to hear about the availability of post-doctoral funding opportunities through the Future Research Leaders fund, and how links between the new Doctoral Training Centres and local organisations are currently being explored in order to provide employment opportunities that are more spatially dispersed.

EC panelAlongside her role as Deputy Director of the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, Dr. Tania Burchardt’s experiences as co-editor of Journal of Social Policy supported an engaging presentation. Seven strategic considerations were described as key when preparing to submit a paper to a journal for publication, including how to nuance written material and then select a well matched journal. Delegates were particularly interested to hear about the factors that can support a positive peer review outcome, while also learning about some common pitfalls. A contrasting perspective on dissemination was then described by Lauren Probert who outlined the potential to participate in timely discussions through the internet, while also connecting with those that have similar research interests. A landing page was described as valuable for supporting a coherent online profile, while the effective management of policy and research information was described. Employability discussions of the day were finally drawn back together in a postgraduate and early career panel that included Ludovica Gambaro, Dr. Dan Horsfall, Maciej Sobocinski and Dr. Aniela Wenham. Describing their employability knowledge, views and experiences, delegates were interested to hear about the factors that are taken into account when deciding to undertake a PhD, and how the transition into employment can be made through the pursuit of lectureships, teaching posts, research posts and funding.

Importantly, this event also served as a postgraduate consultation opportunity, providing the potential to extend our understandings about expressed employability concerns while further grounding strategic activities. As a result, postgraduate delegate comments have been included in this report. Delegates expressed their gratitude towards all of the contributors at this event, and a keenness for follow up activities. Subsequently, anyone wishing to contribute ideas, energy or time to postgraduate employability can contact me via email.

Alongside the input of many, the contributions of Dr. Tania Burchardt and Vida Douglas from the HEA should be particularly acknowledged. Thank you also to Chris Clarke, Rachel Deacon, and Adam Formby for their help.


Richard BartholomewPresentation by Richard Bartholomew: Social Research for Policy Making
Richard Bartholomew is joint Head of the Government Social Research Service and Chief Social Researcher in the Department for Education
Tania BurchardtPresentation by Tania Burchardt: Publishing articles from your PhD
Dr. Tania Burchardt is Deputy Director of CASE, Co-Editor of the Journal of Social Policy
John BeathPresentation by John Beath: ESRC: Investing in future leaders
Professor John Beath, The Economic and Social Research Council and the University of St Andrews