31Jul/20

From physics degree to graduate work – SEPnet & WRIPA’s recent webinar discusses the challenges for graduate employability in the current climate

Over 80 academics, careers professionals and industry representatives joined SEPnet and WRIPA’s webinar on embedding employability to discuss the mobility of physics graduates’ and how to develop their career-ready mindset – particularly in the current challenging climate.

Presenters included Brooke Storer-Church of Office for Students, Charlie Ball of Prospects; academics Al Buckley at University of Sheffield, Mike Edwards at Keele University, Sinead D’Silva from Universidade de Lisboa and Samantha Pugh at Leeds. Professor Sir William Wakeham chaired the event. The presenters were joined by a panel of employers – Rikki Douglas, Ultra Energy; Adrian King, AWE; Riham Satti, MeVitae and Bill Stafford, BAE Systems.

Some of the key points arising from the discussion included:
• Hard to fill graduate roles persist in programming, software development and engineering and this is not expected to change post-COVID-19.
• Employers report graduate vacancies are hard to fill due to candidates lacking technical/practical skills including complex problem-solving skills; complex numerical or statistical skills and role-specific specialist skills. High-level communication skills was also highlighted as an area where STEM/physics graduates need to improve.
• Approximately 85% of physics students study within 100km of home and about 65% end up working within 20km of home
• ‘Physics Stayers’ do really well in terms of graduate-level work. (A ‘Stayer’ travels to a different region from their domiciled address to study and remains in the same region to work).
• “Science ego” (a combination of science capital (influences at home), feeling of belonging and knowledge that studying physics makes you highly employable) can work against students who feel they do not have to work on their employability skills.

You can view the presentations here: D’Silva and Pugh-WRIPA_SEPnet 23 July SEPnet WRIPA Storer-Church MEdwards Presentation Slides  WRIPA presentation_AB  SEPnet 230720_Charlie Ball

A fuller report will be made available to attendees at a later date.  For more information contact employerengagement@sepnet.ac.uk

20Jul/20

SEPnet launches new model for SME collaborative PhD studentships!

Following the success of SEPnet’s PhD SME Consortium in Radiation Detectors (RADnet), SEPnet has successfully won a £370k funding bid from the Research England Development (RED) fund to roll out collaborative PhDs with SMEs. The collaborative project will be led by University of Surrey.

Funding a PhD with a university can be an effective way of conducting research but the cost of research for knowledge-based SMEs can be prohibitive. By building collaborative networks we are able to create a critical mass of research to support both regional activity and national science priorities.

The aim is to recruit a total of 12 PhDs over 3.5 years. As well as radiation detectors, we will explore developing projects related to condensed matter, numerical modelling, simulation and gaming, data science, quantum technologies, medical imaging, photonic materials and sensors – all areas where SEPnet universities have expertise.

This scheme will enable companies to share the costs of PhD studentships with university partners and government funding. Companies will work with academics to shape the projects to ensure that work carried out is in line with each company’s business strategy. SMEs will have regular contact with the academics and the student throughout the 3.5 year programme to ensure the research remains relevant to their needs.

The project is scheduled to start this summer. A part-time project manager will be recruited to coordinate the programme. The first PhD students will be recruited in 2021.

For more information contact Veronica.Benson@sepnet.ac.uk

15Jul/20

Graduate Skills Gap in Physics 2020

The physics graduate “skills gap” – what it is and how to address it

Sean Ryan & Veronica Benson, South East Physics Network, spring 2020
pdf (424 kB): (SkillsGap2020)

Physics graduates are highly employable, and a lower fraction take up non-graduate roles than the national average, but there is a perception that they do not possess the range of technical and ‘employability’ skills that industry requires. In this report, we examine the gap in physics graduates’ range of industry-valued skills, and what universities and industry can do to address it.

Summary and recommendations

With technological change and the demand for new graduate skills accelerating, the physics skills gap will be a continually evolving feature of the physics graduate workplace.
Universities and business need to work together, in ways that have been shown to be effective, to reduce the impact of the skills gap on physicists’ futures and on industry.
There is an onus on academics and the IOP to ensure that physics departments increasingly embed both specialist and transferable skills that graduates and employers have identified, that they increase students’ awareness of these skills and their career options, and that sector requirements are updated continually.
There is an onus on employers and industry to provide the structured placement opportunities wherein students can develop the industry-relevant skills that employers expect graduates to possess.
Coupled with the need for a greater number of placement opportunities to satisfy the high number of physics students pursuing industry-relevant work experience, there is a need for more geographically-diverse and sector-diverse placements, for example provided by SMEs. SMEs are an important contributor to the UK’s economic powerhouse, but historically they have been less likely to offer paid placements. The SEPnet 8-week summer placement scheme involves much smaller financial outlays and time commitments than the traditional full-year placement model, so is well suited to industrial newcomers as well as to students who do not wish to prolong their degrees. Physics students cannot graduate with the full suite of industry-ready skills without the full suite of UK industry providing industry-relevant workplace experiences.
There is also a role for supervisors, research tutors, heads of department, research councils and other funders of research to encourage PhD students to identify and take up placement opportunities to develop industry-relevant knowledge and skills during their studies.

25Jun/20

SEPnet Career Development Webinar for Physics and Maths Students – Marketing Yourself using the Power of LinkedIn

Thursday 16 July, 12.00 – 13.00

Now is a great time to focus on identifying your employability skills. This session will help you understand the skills you’ve gained on your course and in extra-curricular activities and how to show evidence of these in your social media profile.

This is an interactive webinar for physics and maths undergraduate and postgraduate students and will cover:
• How to create a winning profile
• How to develop your personal brand
• How to actively engage with LinkedIn

It would be helpful to set up a LinkedIn profile beforehand so you can work on it during the session.

Hosted by Jenika Karsan, a physics postgraduate, analytics and marketing consultant. Jenika has a strong background in the in financial sector and has worked for a number of years with SEPnet, recruiting students for placements and presenting at SEPnet employability events.

Places are limited. If you would like to join this Zoom webinar, please email employerengagement@sepnet.ac.uk for further details and instructions for how to join the meeting.

18Jun/20

Careers Accelerator Online Masterclass – Register Now!

Who: SEPnet Physics-related PhD students and postdoctoral researchers.  Free to attend.

Where: 4 live online sessions (1.5 hours per session) via Zoom

When: 11:00 on Tuesdays, 4th, 11th, 18th and 25 August 2020 (Attendance required at all 4 sessions)

Numbers: 45

GRADnet is pleased to announce a live online workshop series to explore opportunities beyond your PhD to widen your future career options.

There will be four sessions looking at what’s important to PhD graduates and postdocs now:

  • Opportunities for physical sciences in industry: Find out what’s important to industry, what industry relevant skills physics-related PhD graduates possess and how to articulate your research, skills and experience to add value to a future employer and to give you the edge/impact.
  • Be a problem solver – learn how to ace interview challenges: Learn how to demonstrate your problem-solving capability to potential employers. Practise delivering tangible solutions under time pressures and learn specifically what employers are looking for when hiring PhDs.
  • Understanding and communicating your value to industry: Understand and convey what you can offer business and industry. Develop a pitch to a company you would like to work for, articulating your research, skills and experience and how you can add value to that employer.
  • Connecting with industry: Actively explore different possibilities and better understand the steps/actions you need to take to achieve your next-step career goals.

Preparatory Work: Each module will include maximum of 1 hour (video, audio, reading, writing, thinking, etc.)

Live Session Online: 4 live online masterclasses (1.5 hours each) delivered in coordination with Skillfluence, SEPnet team and industry
partners.

Application: Apply key concepts from the preparatory work and live sessions. This may be individual activity and/or small group work following the masterclass. Maximum of 1 hour per participant.

Register here: (places limited to 45 participants)

Registration deadline: 13 July 2020

Industry partners: 4-Delta Group, Airbus, BBC, Deloitte, Formula-E, GEOptic, Kindred Group, National Physical Laboratory, Reaction Engines and WP Thompson.

02Jun/20

WRIPA SEPnet Joint Embedding Employability Webinar From physics degree to graduate work: developing students’ work mobility and career-ready mindset

Thursday 23 July 2020    09.00 – 13.00
Chaired by Professor Sir William Wakeham & supported by Institute of Physics

Employer engagement is key to the way both physics departments and careers & employability services create opportunities for students to develop transferable skills. However, this approach is predicated on students being ‘work mobile’ with a high level of social capital and the awareness to ‘fit’ their degree programme into the context of the world of work.

The current crisis will lead to new ways of working for universities and business and may lead to different opportunities. However, the key factors underpinning physics graduate outcomes remain largely influenced by students’ access to ‘employability capital’, engagement with careers advice and their career decision-making ability.

Representatives from Office for Students, Graduate Prospects, Universities of Keele, Leeds and Sheffield and from AWE, BAE Systems, MeVitae and Ultra share their views on embedding employability skills, graduate recruitment and work mobility in the current environment.

This joint WRIPA & SEPnet webinar is for academics responsible for employability, heads of teaching and learning, industry representatives, careers and employability advisers and anyone with responsibility for developing physics students’ employability skills.

The event is FREE to attend. Places are limited. To book a place, please click here: https://sepnet-wripa-workshop3.eventbrite.co.uk.

12May/20

Where do physics PhD graduates go?

SEPnet’s recent survey of physics PhD graduates revealed that 69% went straight into roles outside academia. Of these 32% went into business technology and 23% found jobs with research organisations.

Physics PhD graduates work in a range of diverse roles and include data scientists, quantitative analysts, R&D scientists, software engineers and patent officers. Organisations recruiting physicists include Babylon Health, Centronic, Ernst & Young, Legal & General, Mindlab, Ocado Technology, Oxford Instruments and Senseye.

We asked recent PhD graduates for their tips and advice for current students. They had 4 key messages:
Focus on skills more than technical experience
Spend time learning to program properly
Seek internships
Contacts and networks are key.

For more information on where physics PhD graduates click here

09Apr/20

Developing Your Employability Skills in the Current Crisis

The impact of Covid-19 has had a huge impact on both businesses and individuals. At SEPnet we are identifying new ways of working with employers to help students continue to gain work experience and build their employability skills.

Employers are working hard to provide summer placements for students where possible and we are exploring options for remote working or deferring projects if necessary so students don’t lose out. We are also working with employers to deliver webinars and online talks and career panel sessions as part of our wider employer engagement programme.

Now is a great time to take advantage of online resources to build skills and knowledge. The IOP has valuable resources for students and researchers: https://www.iop.org/careers/ and there are several organisations offering MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses), many of which are free. These can help build software coding and data science skills and knowledge as well as career development and business skills. Visit https://www.udemy.com/; https://www.coursera.org/; https://makers.tech/ and https://www.futurelearn.com/ for ideas.

24Mar/20

SEPnet Summer Placements 2020 – updated information

Our SEPnet Summer Placement Scheme is still accepting applications from students despite the current situation regarding the spread of the coronavirus.

Applying for placements is a valuable experience for students and enables them to make contact with potential future employers. Employers are invited to interview shortlisted students via Skype or phone. Placements may take place late summer (if offices are open) or may be deferred or carried out remotely.  Employers who have submitted projects will be contacted to at the end of March to discuss their options.

The deadline date for applications is 31 March.

Email summerplacements@sepnet.ac.uk for further information.

06Mar/20

WISE launch new tool to inspire girls to consider a STEM career!

In recognition of Women’s International Day on 8 March, SEPnet are keen to highlight initiatives to encourage more girls to choose STEM careers. Women are still hugely under-represented at senior levels in these sectors.

WISE have launched a new outreach tool – My Skills My Life – to inspire girls to consider a career in STEM. It is an interactive, online tool that allows girls to find out their personality types and shows them role models with similar personality types working in STEM.

WISE have over 600 role model case studies on the platform, which include information about pathways and brings the role models to life for the girls. The online platform also includes information about companies and the opportunities they have to offer. To try the resource, browse role models or create your own role model profile, please visit www.myskillsmylife.org.uk.

Visit this page to read inspiring case studies about women in a variety of physics-related STEM careers and learn about their challenges, tips and what makes their jobs rewarding.