Buddy scheme matches Scottish physicists with civil servants

1 February 2016

A buddy scheme to link physicists in industry or academia with civil servants in Scotland has been launched by the Institute of Physics, in partnership with the Scottish government.

The scheme was open to IOP members in Scotland who wanted to understand more about the role of science in policy-making and how they can feed into the policy-making process. They have been matched with civil servants in the Scottish Government and will take part in a mixture of meetings, networking opportunities and shadowing over the course of a year.

The scheme, an initiative of the IOP in Scotland, started with a day-long meeting and networking opportunity on 6 November at Victoria Quay, Edinburgh. There, participants met their “buddies” and heard an outline of the scheme as well as presentations from both sides of the buddying relationship.

Pairs of buddies have committed to meeting three or four times over the next 10 months and there will be a final half-day meeting and networking opportunity to talk about what has worked well, with presentations from pairs of buddies on their experiences and the impact of the scheme. Buddies will also be encouraged to keep the relationship going.

The organisers of the scheme hope that IOP members taking part will develop a lasting and productive relationship with a civil servant, improve their transferrable skills such as networking, communication and influencing, and gain an understanding of the role of science in government and public policy.

They hope that civil servants who take part will also improve their transferrable skills, gain a better understanding of the scientific community, keep in touch with scientific research and be able to identify external expertise more easily, and help to build professional networks, while also developing a lasting, productive relationship with a physicist.

The IOP’s national officer for Scotland, Alison McLure, said: “The IOP has noticed a significant interest among members in policy-making and an appetite for activities such as policy-based internships and seminars. We have developed the buddy scheme to meet this need.”

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