Careers in Life Sciences (CiLS) Project

CiLSCiLS has two main interconnected objectives:

1) Identify key factors driving and impeding European life scientists’ careers, as relates to skills and international mobility:

  • Which factors are important in general for international mobility?
  • How often do life scientists see moves abroad as permanent?
  • How does the time spent abroad and the stage of career influence future career plans?

2) Assess which skills young life scientists consider valuable in comparison with the skills that companies are looking for and the companies’ effective practices and barriers for recruiting life scientists:

  • What are the career aspirations of young life scientists?
  • What do young life scientists do to improve their skills (e.g. languages, conferences, trainings)?
  • Which skills, qualifications, and experiences do companies value in their recent hires?
  • What is the perceived value of international moves for building new skills, knowledge and contacts?

Project team: Here you can find more information about the CiLS Project Team

Method: The study utilizes a quantitative survey of young life scientists and a qualitative, in person interview among companies in Europe.

Survey of life scientists: A 30-minute online survey is distributed to life scientists in organizations across Europe (such as Young European Biotech Network, European Federation of Biotechnology, and university associations) and outside of academia via email and web links. The survey contains five main sections to gather data on education, employment, skills, international mobility, and perceptions of the strength of the life science industry in various cities and countries.

Interviews among companies: Interviews among various types of companies which are interested in hiring life scientists (pharmaceutical, biotech, consulting, and financial) will address skills perceived as important for hiring as well as chances for and barriers to international recruitment. Approximately 10-15 companies will be contacted in each of the countries (focusing on, but not limited to Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and Switzerland). After analysis of the survey results by core subgroups (age, gender, nationality, educational qualification, work experience, academic versus outside of academia employment) findings of the student survey and company interview will be merged to answer the research questions.

Expected result: The study will add important insight for the key factors driving European life science careers, with attention to both needs and goals of individuals and from the corporate perspective. A report of the results will be distributed to the individuals, organizations and companies interested and involved in the research. Articles will also be sent for publication in life sciences and social sciences journals to make the findings available to a broad audience.

Benefit: An empirical market-oriented analysis will be provided to life scientists in order to better assess their qualifications as compared to company interests An empirically grounded analysis will be provided to companies to understand the career trajectories and aspirations of life scientists, as well as an overview of recruitment strategies across a range of companies in Europe for attracting skilled life scientists.

Confidentiality: names and e-mail addresses are only collected in order to contact people interested in the study in the future. This information will be removed from the data file so that names and answers cannot be matched. Names and e-mail addresses will never be included in any report, document, group correspondence or given to the public.

Survey design: a pilot survey was done to understand how long it typically takes. Based on the average time from the pilot study, we stated at the beginning of the survey that it typically takes 30 minutes to complete. The questions asked are influenced by the previous answers given, in order for all questions asked to be relevant. Based on your answers, the time required will vary. We really appreciate your time and interest in the study.
We also asked you to type in opinions for questions (open-end questions) for topics where we would like a broader, open discussion. These are necessary to be sure that we have covered the most important points in the other survey questions and to know about your experiences and opinions.

Job issues: The CiLS is an international project undertaken by the Young European Biotech Network and aims to reveal information, but does not provide specific job matching. However, as we are interested in life sciences careers and related topics, we may have information on job related issues (job portals, career fairs). Please visit frequently for more details.

YEBN also would like to promote the use of the European Commission’s EURAXESS portal for comprehensive information on jobs and grants throughout Europe.

CiLS publications:

  • CiLS Team, Careers on the move; Nature 449, 634 (3 October 2007) [link]
  • Aimee Rindoks and Emilia Danilowicz, International Science Careers Survey: Staying a Step Ahead; New Biotechnology 25 (2008), p. 125 (October-December 2008) [link]


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