Strengthening researchers’ skills for better careers – leveraging the European Competence Framework for Researchers (HORIZON-WIDERA-2024-ERA-01-04)

  • Action type: HORIZON-CSA HORIZON Coordination and Support Actions
  • Opening date: 6 December 2023
  • Closing time: 12 March 2024 17:00 (Europe/Brussels)
  • Budget per project: € 500 000 of total € 500 000
  • Estimated number of projects funded: 1
  • Official website


Projects are expected to contribute to the following outcomes:

  • Researchers at all career stages equipped with a comprehensive set of transversal skills based on the European Competence Framework for Researchers (ResearchComp), to foster more open and inter-sectoral research careers, and a better recognition of the researcher profession;
  • Coordination and exchange of best practices between Higher Education Institutions, research institutions, and other training providers for the improvement of research and transversal skills training;
  • Meeting of labour market demands by strategic partnerships of training providers with labour market actors in the development of training programmes;
  • Contribution to certification of microcredentials;
  • Improved communication of science to the public, to make research careers more appealing to younger generations.


Skills are of utmost importance for researchers, they allow them to perform high quality research, and to make the overall European R&I system competitive and challenges-proof. However, it is crucial that researchers are equipped not only with research-specific skills, but also with transversal skills that allow them to be interoperable between academia and the other sectors, including industry and business, and to be capable to establish entrepreneurial activities to turn innovative ideas into business and lead to social, environmental and economic profitability.

Being equipped with a wide spectrum of skills is of high benefit for researchers, who can have access to an enlarged number of opportunities for career development compared to the limited ones available in academia, but also for the labour market, which is in constant need for highly skilled talents such as researchers.

To support inter-sectoral mobility and a broad recognition of the research profession in academia and beyond, and in line with the Skills Agenda, the Commission has developed a set of skills and occupations relevant for researchers which contributed to the update of the European Skills, Competences and Occupations (ESCO) classification. It has also finalised a European Competence Framework for Researchers (ResearchComp)[1], which contains the competences that researchers should have for a successful and interoperable career in academia and beyond, including via entrepreneurship creation and through effective communication of science to the public, to engage an increasing number of young people in research careers. ResearchComp is divided into 7 competence areas, and for each competence it provides four progression levels, each of them with a number of foreseen learning outcomes.

Projects are expected to support research performing organisations in adapting and reinforcing formal and targeted training for researchers based on:

  • The use of ResearchComp, so that training is provided not only on research-specific skills, but also on transversal skills that can foster better research careers in academia and beyond;
  • Strategic interaction with ecosystem actors, in order to have a better understanding of labour market needs, close the gap between demand and supply, and jointly develop training programmes;
  • The promotion and support for networking and the exchange of best practices between Higher Education Institutions and other training providers with regard to the development of formal and targeted training opportunities for researchers that can foster inter-sectoral and inter-disciplinary mobility;
  • Without prejudice to the other transversal skills needed by researchers for inter-sectoral and inter-disciplinary mobility, put a specific emphasis on science communication to make researchers capable to correctly and effectively communicate to the public, and to make research careers more attractive for young talents.

Projects are also expected to contribute to the certification and recognition of targeted training opportunities to up-skill and re-skill, provided under the form of micro-credentials.

Activities may include roadmap development, networking, sector-specific training development, seed funding for training providers in academia and beyond (non-exhaustive list of activities that projects may consider).


Horizon Europe has a new level of ambition – to maximise the impact of the European Union’s research and innovation funding for European science, the economy and the wider society. It marks a paradigm change in the design of the European R&I framework programmes (FP) from an activity-driven to an impact-driven programme. Coupled to this ambition is the relaunch of the European Research Area (ERA) as described in the Commission Communication “A new ERA for Research and Innovation” (COM/2020/628 final of 30.09.2020).

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of R&I cooperation to provide solutions to society’s most demanding needs. With the priority on delivering Europe’s recovery as well as on the green and digital twin transitions, a new level of ambition, linking R&I better with the economy, and with education and training, is needed to match these challenges and put scientific knowledge to work.

The new ERA calls for deepening existing priorities and creating new initiatives by strengthening the mobility of researchers and the free flow of knowledge and technology, to improve access to excellence, boost market uptake and prioritise investment and reform. Working together has been the philosophy of the ERA since its launch; however, the green and digital transitions and the COVID recovery call for more and closer cooperation between the Commission, the Member States and stakeholders. They require the setting of new priorities, launching ambitious joint initiatives and developing common approaches between policies.

To address these requirements, Destination 3 of part 11 of the Horizon Europe work programme will support efforts to reform and enhance the European R&I system. Destination 3 is built around four strands corresponding to the four objectives set out in the ERA Communication:

  1. Prioritising investments and reforms in research and innovation;
  2. Improving access to excellence, progressing towards excellence across the whole EU and striving for stronger research and innovation systems;
  3. Translating R&I results into the economy to meet the digital and green transition objectives, and boost the resilience and competitiveness of our economies and societies;
  4. Deepening the ERA, to further progress the free circulation of knowledge and to ensure an upgraded, efficient and effective R&I system.

The principle of excellence, meaning that the best researchers with the best ideas that offer the best solutions to the societal challenges obtain funding, remains the cornerstone for all investments under the ERA.

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