We Need Effective Staffing Strategies for All Parts of the Career Cycle

I spent most of last week focusing on employer issues. The week began with the Association of Swedish Higher Education’s (SUHF) employer days and ended with the Swedish Agency for Government Employers’ annual meeting.

We live in an era with a strong focus on career issues in academia, both early and late in the working lives of university staff – from the work conditions of doctoral students, their post-degree careers and the opportunities at the end of a career as a professor.

New legislation that we must comply with from 1 April 2018 may be the beginning of a permanent post at Swedish higher education institutions. The reason is that on this date, the opportunity to be hired as associate senior lecturer no more than five years after the completion of a doctoral degree, and to be considered for a post as senior lecturer after 4–6 years, will be introduced. A tenure track position that may lead to a professorship. The idea is to ensure a recruitment process with high demands, and that both teaching and research qualifications shall be carefully assessed. The University of Gothenburg will introduce this structure on 1 April 2018, which means that the written employment procedure must be revised.

Another issue concerns what happens at the end of a professor’s career. At SUHF’s employer day in Stockholm, a group of vice-chancellors talked about the conditions at their respective universities for professors serving as emeriti or senior professors. Different institutions handle this issue differently.

I believe it is important that we at the University of Gothenburg take full advantage of our professors’ vast competence also after they turn 67 years old, but it is also important that we standardise the way we handle the transition and make our routines clear and predictable. At present, our practices vary across the University. The plan is to review how we use these two categories.

What the whole issue is about is really career paths and whether we as employers are acting as strategically as possible when it comes to recruiting and keeping the best talents from the beginning to the end of the career cycle.

Eva Wiberg