Nowadays, employers expect graduates of biotechnology programs to have more than just a solid academic background in the subject. To successfully start a career in the biotech sector, graduates have to bring with them not only subject-specific expertise, but also “transferable skills” including the ability to work as part of a team, self-organization, and excellent written and oral communication skills. Those were the findings of a Europe-wide survey performed as part of “Future Skills for Biotechnology.”
The project participants, who come from eight participating EU countries, have been raising awareness of the new requirements among faculty members and students throughout Europe since January. The survey, which asked students about their study habits and motivation, forms the basis for specific actions to be taken as part of the biotechnology project.
Offerings for Students and Teachers Alike
Starting in the 2010 summer semester, students in seminars are increasingly being urged to reflect on their own progress and take a critical approach to weighing their own individual goals for both their studies and life in general. They are given the opportunity to develop their own “transferable skills” with the support of the seminar instructor. The Career Service integrates these seminars into the range of courses it offers for general career preparation purposes, which explore the project goals from both the instructional and the conceptual point of view.
The Polish, Danish, and Portuguese project partners have also established a tutoring program with the aim of fostering the open exchange of ideas between students and instructors and helping students to gain individual feedback that they can apply to achieving their study goals.
“Future Skills for Biotechnology” is also aimed at instructors, offering workshops and continuing education courses. During the coming semester, instructors will have the opportunity to attend a training session to develop strategies and tools to ensure that their courses accommodate students’ learning methods and the new requirements as to the content of their teaching plans.
Final Conference to Take Place in September 2010 in Porto
The international final conference to conclude “Future Skills for Biotechnology” is scheduled to take place on September 27 and 28 in Porto, Portugal. The event will offer representatives of the business sector, academia and the sciences, and higher education the opportunity to discuss their experiences and develop joint approaches to the delicate balancing act between scientific and academic instruction and “employability.”
The EU’s “Future Skills for Biotechnology” project has been under way in eight EU countries since March 2009, to great success. It has been funded by the European Commission, within the framework of the ERASMUS program for multilateral projects in the field of cooperation between universities and the business sector.
The Career Service of Freie Universität Berlin provides information, advising, and courses aimed to provide additional qualifications to support students and graduates in making the transition from student life to a professional career.