Partnering Skills Development Program

How to empower academic staff with the skills and insights to build and sustain meaningful partnerships with industry and the wider community.

Ruth Hundertmark
University of South Australia

Natalie Forde
University of Adelaide

Background and Objectives
As Australia’s University of Enterprise, the University of South Australia (UniSA) is committed to working with end-users and the community to ensure that the knowledge we create is shaped by the challenges and opportunities facing industry and society. To deliver this intent, we provide support and training for academic colleagues to learn how to build sustainable partnerships.

In response to the increasing need for academics to engage with industry – a need driven by our institutional strategy and changes in the traditional research funding environment, there has been a steady increase in the demand for partnering training across our enterprise. Many local areas were running sessions and programs that varied in quality and did not necessarily link to our overarching institutional goals and preferred partnering approach. It was also not cost effective.

Our plan was to deliver a whole of institution offering that addressed the needs and aspirations of our organisation. Following an extensive review of market offerings, we determined that none fully addressed the key issues we considered important to a successful program. Most focused on the process of partnering and missed the preparation phase. At the same time, UniSA had just piloted it’s new two-way performance development and management tool – the Research Benchmarking Framework (RBF) which importantly, embedded engagement expectations in professional development discussions with staff. This tool confirmed the University’s commitment to engagement and also, provided insight into the key parts of our enterprise that could most immediately benefit from participating this this program. Using the RBF the Partnering Skills Development Program focused on Level Cs and is one input to the longitudinal evaluation we have developed for the program to measure its impact.