Soft skills trainings for PhDs/academics

The main benefit of this practice is that such training improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the international PhD students and academic staff and increases their satisfaction and social integration. Soft skills are at the core of making any mobility programme successful. Soft skills related to intercultural communication can facilitate researchers' and PhDs' adaptation and social integration. Researchers and PhDs need to receive regular training in the full range of soft skills to perform best in their jobs/academic and research tasks. As a result of that training, it is expected that the atmosphere in the academic teams will improve substantially since a lot of conflicts and misunderstandings will be avoided and communication will run more smoothly. The most important thing for this practice is that to have sustainable results such courses need to be offered on a regular basis.



Improved skills and knowledge Better communication and cooperation Social integration

Basic information
Categories Profesional & Academic Development Social Integration & Daily Life Networking
Mobility stages During mobility phase
Delivery schedule Periodic
Importance Important to have
Scale of organizational change
Target groups PhD student/Early career researcher R2 - R4 researchers Lecturers (incl. Language Teachers)
Types of contracts of researchers Full degree student Permanent employee Visiting scholar Employee in training (interns, research fellows, postdocs) Exchange student
Career stages of researchers Less than 6 months 6-12-months of experience 1-3-years of experience 3-10 years of experience
Lengths of stays of researchers 3-6 months 6-12 months More than 12 months
Practice setup

There are several steps to prepare for delivery of such training programme:

  • Appoint the responsible person/staff member to be engaged (at least 2, possibly not full-time).

  • Consider having the training logistics approved by the management board (budget, training schedule, rooms, etc.) in advance.

  • Conduct a survey and an analysis of the training needs of the target group (PhD students/ academics).

  • Define the needed skills (i.e. time management, leadership, teamworking, communication and interpersonal skills, problem-solving and critical thinking, project management, etc.) and the level of the trainees' existing skills (based on the conducted survey).

  • Explore intercultural issues and their impact on the host country's soft skills specifics (communication, time management, leadership etc);

  • Consider the format of the trainings (in-person, online, combination of in-person and online modes, incl. complementary e-learning (self-paced) programme).

  • Identify trainers and their availability.

  • Prepare a schedule and a training program to develop each of the skills in focus (in cooperation with the identified trainers).

  • Publish the catalogue of trainings ahead.

  • Prepare promotion plan (via most optimal communication channels: emails, newsletters).


Cost of practice setup
Time required for practice setup
Personnel effort required for practice setup
Actors involved in practice setup
  • Doctoral school
  • Career development centre
  • Language department
Partners involved in practice setup
  • EURAXESS centre
  • Career advisor
  • Local NGOs or charities
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice setup
  • Training plan and programme designed
  • Process organization developed

@EURAXESS centre/national coordinating organisation can help during set up by providing a lot of experienced trainers, advice during the planning and organisation and mostly as:

  • Provider of trainers for the process of acquiring soft skills

  • Provider of materials and recorded webinars for training

Practice delivery

Prior to the training delivery the team will have to:

  • Prepare and implement a survey on trainees' needs & level of soft skills and run an analysis of the results.

  • Prepare a training scenario template in order to facilitate an agreement on the format and content of the training, support (pre-training/post-training activities, training delivery method/s, technical support for trainers - wifi, laptop, seat set-up, flipchart, the requirement for trainees to have their own laptop/smartphone, etc) 

  • Get in touch with the identified trainers.

  • Assist the trainers in developing the training programme.

  • Prepare a schedule for the training events.

  • Set up and implement a registration procedure.

  • Develop a feedback collection procedure.

During the training delivery:

  • Support the trainer/trainers in preparing to deliver the training by providing facilities/tools, stationery materials, room-seat organisation (if held in person) and ideas for interactive in-person and online games/quizes, as well as with wifi and  technical equipment

  • Distribution of the pre-training surveys and the respective collection of data

  • Support the trainer/trainers in delivering the training.

  • Collect feedback and analyse it.

After the training delivery, the staff have to collect and analyse the feedback, spread the materials from the training, and keep in contact with the audience.

Cost of practice delivery
Time required for practice delivery
Personnel effort required for practice delivery
Actors involved in practice delivery
  • Doctoral school
  • Career development centre
Partners involved in practice delivery
  • EURAXESS centre
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice delivery
  • Number of trainings implemented annually
  • Average satisfaction rate
  • Number of trainees

Cooperate with your or (if there is none at your organisation) with the closest EURAXESS center.

EURAXESS staff can help with many:

  • practical advice,

  • useful links,

  • own resources and tolls,

  • provide trainers through the EURAXESS list of trainers,

  • participate in direct delivery.


Examples of practice

International Mentoring Programme

The benefits of a mentoring relationship are valuable for both - mentees and mentors. You could develop new skills and knowledge, make new contacts and create a professional relationship with someone from another part of the world.

The benefits of a mentoring relationship are valuable for both - mentees and mentors. Developing new skills and knowledge, making new contacts and creating a professional relationship with someone from another part of the world are only small number of them.

This Mentoring programme will bring an advantageous experience when they are:

  • considering or already started a mobility project outside your country
  • willing to explore new professional networking opportunities
  • willing to improve your knowledge, skills and career perspectives
  • interested in international research collaboration
  • open to share skills, knowledge and experience
  • looking to widening your understanding on how other research organizations work

You can use directly the mentoring program by advising to join and providing the link to your international PhDs and staff. Another option could be to request the coordinators to prepare your internal mentoring program by using the same online tool.


Virtual webinars and trainings


The European EURAXESS portal offers a series of virtual webinars and trainings related to the development/enhancement of transferable skills of PhD students and young researchers.

The training topics are as follows:

  • Importance of soft skills in professional life
  • Project management

The trainers are experienced researchers in the area and/or career advisors. They are all members of EURAXESS network and mentors in our EURAXESS Mentoring program. All trainers provided their short bio, contact details, and are available to consult you, answer your questions, or comment on your exercises. After registration to the European EURAXESS portal, access to the content is free of charge.