A penny for your (research) thoughts?

21 February 2023 | Blogs, News, Daphne Jackson Trust Communications news

What is the cost of brilliant minds lost from research?

We already know that brilliant minds are indeed worth a lot more than a penny! In fact, they could be worth millions, and in this article, we discuss the penalty of not returning researchers (and their brilliant minds) to research. So buckle up for a piggy-bank smashing blog on how much value returners bring.

All too often at the Daphne Jackson Trust, we hear from potential research returners about their challenges to re-enter their research careers after a break. They apply for roles, often asking for more flexibility on hours, and simply never hear back. With increasing focus on work-life balance, when will academia catch up with the rest of modern-day workplace practices?

Impact on academia:

In a paper by Beth Cornell, published by HEPI, a staggering 70% of PhD students had left academia three and a half years after graduating, with the most common reason being lack of work-life balance (20%). It’s hard not to look at those numbers and think of those brilliant minds being lost from academia.

The cost and impact of people leaving the research field can have both direct and indirect consequences on the research environment. Ranging from decreased innovation and competitiveness, to increased training costs and negative impacts on diversity and inclusion. The benefits of supporting research returners and retaining talented individuals in research cannot be overstated. In our recent impact report, for every £1 invested in a Daphne Jackson Fellow, they secure nearly £2 in future research funding. Research breeds research!

The UK labour market as a whole shows that the career break penalty for female professionals can hugely harm the economy, with a projected annual earnings boost of £1.1 billion. Against the outcry that 93% of women in a PWC report who state it is hard to combine a successful career with caring responsibilities, and a huge 76% of professional women on a break who wish to return to work.

What can we do to support re-entry to research careers?

In the ever developing and fast-moving world of research, highly skilled individuals who take a career break often find themselves lagging their peers when returning to research. It can be incredibly difficult to find suitable employment that fully utilises their knowledge and experience.

The previous Government sent positive signals about the importance of UK science, increasing total R&D spend to reach 2.4% of GDP by 2027. And there is evidence that we are actually doing more R&D than was previously thought and already achieving the 2.4% projections. But now we need to dig deeper and go further, as quoted by CaSE; “Now is the time to be ambitious and go for growth”.

There are various initiatives to support research returners, including returner programs within many universities and research institutions. By providing additional funding, resources, and support, these initiatives can help research returners successfully transition back to work and continue making valuable contributions to their fields.

At the Daphne Jackson Trust we endeavor to support researchers to return to their careers after a career break. Over the last two decades, we have saved an estimated 1250 years of research experience and talent from being lost from the sector.  Fellowships offer the opportunity to work on a research project on a part-time, flexible basis in universities, research institutes and industry across the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Helen Marsh, Trust Manager at the Daphne Jackson Trust comments; “We are so proud to be part of and championing a community that includes people from all walks of life. You shouldn’t be excluded due to personal circumstances, and the Fellows, hosts and sponsors we work with are just brilliant. They make us stronger as an organisation and it benefits the wider research environment.”

Help us to build this incredible community, whether that’s looking into sponsoring or hosting a Fellowship – or simply spreading the word. Send this article to someone you think may be interested.

Are you interested in sponsoring or hosting a Daphne Jackson Fellow? Click here to read more.

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