Hanga me te Pupuri Pūmanawa | Building and Sustaining Talent

It is important that the RSI workforce has the right skills to deliver excellent and impactful research across Aotearoa New Zealand. Institutions have a key role in supporting the RSI workforce’s development. Therefore, we asked RSI organisations about different types of developmental support they offer, including for Early Career Researchers and research students.

We asked organisations what programmes they operate to develop their workforce. We provided a number of options that organisations had the option to select. We also provided an option for organisations to provide more detail on schemes they provide to their workforce. The most common support types provided by respondents were paying for staff to attend conferences (n=68, 70%), providing training opportunities (n=65, 67%), and paying for staff to join professional networks (n=57, 59%) (see Figure 5).

All 7 CRIs and all 8 universities provide these types of support. The types of support offered by the least number of respondents are coaching and mentoring programmes (n=50, 52%), and leadership development programmes (n=43, 44%), and study/sabbatical leave (n=32, 33%).

Across organisation types, TEIs provide the most comprehensive developmental support to their workforce (see Figure 5).

A large majority of ROs pay for staff to attend conferences (76%) and join professional networks (71%), and fund training opportunities (71%). Areas lacking support are leadership development training and coaching and mentoring programmes, which only 55% of ROs provide (see Figure 5). However, 6 out of 7 CRIs do provide these types of schemes, indicating the greatest opportunities for improvement are at other types of RO.

This data is not a reflection of the quality of these schemes or how they are experienced by the RSI workforce. Please see pages 17-21 of the report on the RSI Workforce Survey of Individuals for an employee perspective of development opportunities offered by RSI institutions.

Figure 5: Types of support for staff professional development by organisation type

This figure is a clustered bar chart showing the types of professional development support available for Research, Science and Innovation employees. The chart has 9 clusters representing the professional development support types (Pay for staff to attend conferences, Training opportunities, Pay for staff to join professional ne2rks, Coaching and mentoring programmes, Leadership development, Study/sabbatical leave, Other, None of the above, Don't know). Each cluster has 4 bars representing each organisation type (Business, Research Organisations, Tertiary Education, Surveyed Organisations Total). The X axis shows the percentage of organisations that provide this type of professional development support, and the Y axis shows the type of professional development support by organisation. There is a key at the bottom of the chart showing the 4 organisation types.
  1. 96 organisations responded to this question
  2. Data Source: Workforce Organisations Survey

Ngā hōtaka whakawhanake | Development programmes

Professional development programmes outlined by respondents focus on progressing high performing staff and making sure that women, Māori, Pacific and ECRs have opportunities to be promoted and are supported in seeking them. Types of initiatives highlighted by respondents were development programmes focussed on enhancing management/leadership skills, support targeted for women, including workshops, leadership networks and mentoring programmes, and training courses and workshops.

“We have initiatives designed to support female academics, including… networking for women postgraduate students with senior academic women, workshops on empowering women in STEM and academia … [and a] Women in Leadership mentoring program…” – University

“We have training in prevention/understanding of Bullying and Harassment, Coaching, Courageous conversations and ... and Diversity Works training.” – University

“We contract a consultant to provide cultural competency support and professional development to all staff.” – Business

Te tautoko i ngā kairangahau pūhou me te paetahi | Support for Early Career Researchers and graduates

ECRs are crucial to the health and success of our RSI workforce and system. We asked ROs whether they offer any specific development opportunities to ECRs. The 3 most common areas of support for ECRs were paying to attend conferences (77% of respondents), career development support (71%), and coaching and mentoring programmes (60%) (see Table 8). All CRIs pay for their ECRs to attend conferences and offer coaching and mentoring programmes.

The least common area of support was fellowship positions, with only 7 organisations, including 1 CRI, providing them. There is an opportunity to provide ECRs with greater industry engagement opportunities, with only 8 ROs, including 3 CRIs, providing industry training grants/support.

Table 8: Development support for early career researchers in research organisations

Types of development support Research organisations
n %
Pay to attend conferences 27 77%
Career development support 25 71%
Coaching and mentoring programmes 21 60%
Industry training grants/support 8 23%
Fellowship positions 7 20%
Other 9 26%
None of the above 4 11%
  1. 35 research organisations responded to this question
  2. Data Source: Workforce Organisations Survey.

ROs stressed their support for ECRs in a number of areas:

  • Facilitating access to networking opportunities/providing support in building relationships with the national and international research community. Some IROs have built their own consultation and engagement networks.
  • Supporting professional and career development. 1 CRI is running a project focussed on supporting more Māori in the science system.  The project adopts a pan-CRI approach to developing Māori graduates, including enhancing their networks and providing mentoring across the CRI system.
  • Promoting and celebrating the research contributions of ECRs. 1 university talked about how they invest in their ECRs, support the development of their teaching skills and ensure workloads allowed for development of their research careers.

Te tautoko mō ngā ākonga rangahau | Support for research students

We also asked ROs whether they mentor or co-supervise any research students and if so, how many. 23 of the 46 RO respondents mentor or co-supervise a total of 358 research students. Most of these research students are mentored/co-supervised by CRIs, with 6 of the 7 CRIs mentoring or co-supervising 290 (or 80% of the total) research students. Aotearoa New Zealand had 10,150 students enrolled in doctoral degrees in 2020.

Table 9: Number of research students mentored or co-supervised in research organisations

Organisation type Research students
Crown Research Institute (6) 290
Independent research organisation (9) 42
Other (8) 26
 Total 358
  1. 23 organisations responded to this question.
  2. Data Source: Workforce Organisations Survey

We also asked businesses whether they employ graduate students (Masters/PhD) to perform R&D activities in their business. 54% of the businesses who responded to the Survey confirmed that they employ graduate students, compared to 45% who don’t (see Table 10).

Table 10: Organisations that employ graduate students to perform R&D activities

Organisation type Business (49) Tertiary education institution (2) Other (2)
n % n % n %
Yes 26 53% 1 50% 1 50%
No 22 45% 1 50% 1 50%
Unsure 1 2% 0 0% 0 0%
Total 49 100% 2 100% 2 100%
  1. 53 organisations responded to this question
  2. Data Source: Workforce Organisations Survey.

Ngā hōtaka karahipi | Scholarship programmes

Some ROs highlighted scholarship programmes that they offer for research students, both at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

“GNS Science has partnered with Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) to deliver the Ahunuku Māori Summer Scholarship programme for Māori undergraduate students studying physical / earth sciences. This programme has been running for 3 years now with a total of 9 scholarships being awarded.  The Ahunuku Scholarships follow a structured programme, including opportunities for learning and development.” – CRI

Other organisations also run projects focussed on attracting and retaining more Māori in the science system.

“PFR runs an annual summer student programme, (up to 50 places per year) with a Te Rito intake for Rangitahi (up to 25 places across PFR). The summer student programme provides students the opportunity to work and learn in an area of science, with further support through mentoring and leadership. The summer student programme provides a pathway for increasing the number of Māori scientists at PFR.  A Waiata group of 20 plus staff provides cultural support for key Māori engagements, including pōwhiri for new staff or ceremonial events.” – CRI