Talented early-career engineers are given the chance to thrive and contribute to the public service via the Australian Government’s Australian Science Policy Fellowship Program.
The program, which is currently open for applications until 7 March, aims to train the next generation of talented scientists and engineers and open up pathways for working in the public service.
Organised by the Australian Government’s Office of the Chief Scientist, the program is designed to introduce early-career scientists and engineers to the nature of policy work, and utilise their fresh perspectives to improve departmental outcomes.
According to Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley, the program also reinforces the interface between science and policy.
“Having engineers embedded in government can help strengthen the dialogue between engineering and government, creating better policy settings,” she said.
Fellows are exposed to on-the-job skill development across departments and agencies. By bringing technical experience into the policy sphere, they are encouraged to offer innovative solutions to pressing policy needs.
“Connections between industry, research and government are essential to solve the big challenges, whether that’s reducing emissions and switching to clean energy, shifting to a high-tech economy and building STEM skills, or making the most of advances in biotech and quantum technologies,” Dr Foley said.
“These challenges need whole-of-economy collaboration and the more ways we can build connections and avenues of collaboration, the better.”
There is the option of participants either undertaking two six-month rotations or staying in the one department for a full 12 months.
Building valuable skills
Since the inception of the Australian Science Policy Fellowship Program in 2018, 59 individuals have been placed in policy roles across 12 Australian Government departments. Up to 20 fellowships are awarded each year.
Engineers Australia Chief Engineer Jane MacMaster FIEAust CPEng EngExec NER recommended the program for its ability to provide fruitful outcomes to both Fellows and industry.
“As someone with a background in both policy and engineering, I can attest that bringing technical expertise to the policymaking process is essential to solving some of the world’s most pressing problems,” she said.
“Equally, being aware of policymaking approaches and government processes can usefully inform research and technology development.
“The Australian Science Policy Fellowship Program is such a valuable opportunity to build your skillset, broaden your experience and to better integrate science, technology and engineering with policymaking.”
Dr Foley stressed the program’s benefits for participants.
“The Australian Science Policy Fellowship is a fantastic opportunity to either springboard into a career in the APS or return to engineering with a greater understanding of how to work collaboratively with government.”
Dr Foley, who is focused strongly on equality and diversity, also noted a commitment to flexibility and inclusion.
“Only with the widest variety of perspectives and experiences in the room can we truly find the best solutions to our biggest challenges,” she said. “We encourage applications from as diverse a cohort as possible to apply.
“We have made changes to the program to make it more accessible to a wider pool of applicants. This includes the potential for flexibility with start dates, duration and locations, depending on host department requirements.”
To be eligible for the Australian Science Policy Fellowship Program, applicants must be an Australian citizen aged 18 years or over, hold a PhD in a STEM discipline, and be no more than 15 years post-PhD completion.
Applications for the 2023-24 Australian Science Policy Fellowship Program are open until 7 March 2023. Apply here.