Research Workforce and Training Issues

Twitter social media public usage statement

Research Skills for an Innovative Future Image

Our vision for the research workforce

'The Government’s vision for 2020 is of a strong and productive Australian research workforce, comprising the scale, breadth and depth of skills required to support innovation, educate the next generation of Australians, and ultimately drive productivity improvements across the economy.'

The Australian Government’s Research Workforce Strategy (RWS), Research Skills for an Innovative Future | maps out our research needs and identifies the factors that make for high quality research training. It is a comprehensive plan to match our capabilities to our innovation goals.

Research Workforce Strategy Implementation

The Research Workforce Strategy Implementation includes the following components:

  • Workshop outcomes - Doctoral Research Training in our region
  • The Research Education Experience 
  • Development of a Research Training Quality Consultation Paper 
  • Development of a Full Cost of Research Training report 
  • Forming of the Research Workforce Strategic Advisory Group 
  • forming of the Research Training Quality Working Group.

Research Skills for an Innovative Future: Business Views and Needs final report

This report produced by the Business/Higher Education Roundtable (B-HERT) summarises the proceedings of two workshops designed to bring together business and university representatives to discuss the value of Higher Degree by Research (HDR) graduates as employees within their organisations. Business employers offer an important perspective to the implementation of the Australian Government’s Research Workforce Strategy.

Workshop Outcomes - Doctoral Research Training in Our Region

The Australian Council Deans and Directors of Graduate Studies (DDOGS) conducted a workshop with support from the department to explore the potential for multilateral initiatives to prepare the future research workforce in our region to work in a global environment. The objective of the workshop was ‘To improve understanding of best practice in research training in our region”.

Delegates from Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 15 and 16 February 2012.  Workshop discussions dealt with topics related to research training. Outcomes from the workshop included considering best practice principles | around:

  1. Critical dimensions of the doctoral experience,
  2. Generic/transferable skills,
  3. Principles for quality supervisor development, and
  4. Quality research training in the context of the globalisation of research.

The Research Education Experience

An in-depth report on the higher degree by research (HDR) students’ experience has been completed by the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations, on behalf of the department.

Through a mixture of a survey, focus groups and case studies The Research Education Experience | report highlights some of the issues research students encounter. It suggests best practice approaches important to a successful and meaningful postgraduate research experience.

Research Training Quality Consultation Paper

The consultation paper is the initial phase in the review of the Research Training Scheme (RTS), which provides funding to eligible higher education providers to support research training for domestic students undertaking higher degrees by research.  The consultation paper aims to identify what quality in research training means and how it can be measured and encouraged.

The consultation paper: Defining Quality for Research Training in Australia |  was prepared by the department in consultation with the Research Training Quality sub-group of the Research Workforce Strategy Advisory Group.

The Department presented the consultation paper at public information sessions held in all capital cities.


Submissions for this paper closed on 28 November 2011. A total of 63 submissions were received from higher education institutions, research agencies, peak bodies and individuals.

Full Cost of Research Training Report

Following the recommendation of the RWS and as a first step in examining the research training system the department commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to undertake a study investigating the full costs of research training in universities.

The final report, The Examination of the Full Cost of Research Training | , established that there was some difference between the level of Research Training Scheme (RTS) funding and the amount most institutions were spending on research training. 

The study provides a useful initial insight into this area of funding, however due to data compatibility issues, analysis was limited.  In progressing the review of the RTS, a further more detailed examination will be undertaken, in consultation with the sector. This will include developing a more appropriate data collection methodology to account for discipline and project related costs associated with training a Higher Degree by Research candidate.  

The observations and views expressed in the above report are those of Deloitte Access Economics and do not reflect the views of the department. 

Research Workforce Strategic Advisory Group

Research Workforce Strategy implementation will be overseen by the Research Workforce Strategic Advisory Group (RWSAG). The group will provide advice on the implementation of priority areas for the Australian Government and stakeholder focus identified in the workforce strategy, including:

  • Establishment of new processes to improve national research skills planning capacity.
  • Review of the Research Training Scheme
  • Development of new models for research training that explicitly focus on the professional employment needs of graduates
  • Establishment of a web-based communication platform to promote research career opportunities and support in Australia
  • Implementation of an indigenous research workforce plan focussed on the higher education sector (in consultation with the Indigenous Higher Education Advisory Council and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies)
  • Establishment of strengthened national data collection practices in relation to Australia’s research workforce.
  • Contribution to standards for research training
  • Development and implementation of a gender diversity and equity plan.

The RWSAG will also:

  • Facilitate stakeholder engagement in progressing key priority areas
  • Work closely with stakeholders, including government departments, to improve national research workforce data collection and reporting processes
  • The advisory group will as necessary allow for the establishment of subgroups to contribute to specific pieces of work. The subgroups would have the ability to co-opt additional members as required. Subgroups would initially include:
    • The development of research training quality standards.
    • Technical aspects of the review of the Research Training Scheme.

The RWSAG membership reflects the expertise and knowledge necessary to help implement the RWS. 

Research Training Quality Working Group

The Research Training Quality (RTQ) working group, of the RWSAG, will consider research training quality issues, including the development of quality standards and issues relevant to the review of the Research Training Scheme, facilitate stakeholder engagement in progressing key priority areas and work closely with stakeholders, including government departments, to improve national research workforce data collection and reporting processes.

The RTQ working group membership reflects the expertise and knowledge necessary to help implement the above areas.

Research Workforce Strategy Launch

Senator the Hon Kim Carr and Prof. Ian Chubb

The Australian Government’s Research Workforce Strategy, Research Skills for an Innovative Future, was launched by Senator the Hon Kim Carr on Tuesday, 19 April 2011. The strategy aims to strengthen the nation's research workforce to 2020 and beyond.

In response to Powering Ideas: An Innovation Agenda for the 21st Century, the strategy was developed in consultation with research training providers, research employers and other relevant stakeholders to address expected shortfalls in the supply of research-qualified people. Learn more about the development of the research workforce strategy.




Share this Page