This report consolidates the learnings from the Whole Systems Networking Fund, Energy-PIECES project. It makes recommendations about how to successfully organise, manage and communicate secondments with a range of policy-making institutions.

Authors: Sioned Haf, Stephanie A Hirmer, Rihab Khalid, Pip Roddis, Lauren Stabler, George Warren, Chris Foulds, Rosie Robison, and Melanie Rohse.

Energy-PIECES was a networking and skills development project funded by the UKERC, Whole Systems Networking Fund.

The project answered UKERC’s call for more diverse voices to be represented in the energy sector in two ways. First, it aimed to provide opportunities for PhD and Early Career Researchers (ECRs) to engage with policy-facing organisations. Second, it sought to help embed novel Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) perspectives in places where they are under-represented. The project consisted of a masterclass (December 2018) and six secondments with a range of policy organisations:Practical Action, Energy Cities, Energy Saving Trust, EDF & Somerset Community Foundation, the UK Government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The policy-worker – ECR gap

A number of high-quality applications were received. As such, our experiences only reinforced the argument that there is a gap in opportunities for ECRs to engage with policy-workers. In addition, the project revealed significant appetite from policy organisations themselves to work with energy-SSH ECRs, with many new organisations expressing keen interest in possible future schemes. This short publication focuses on the secondments component of the Energy-PIECES project, within which secondees investigated a policy problem set by the host and considered what fresh ideas and solutions energy-SSH may bring to this problem.

Build on our experience

This document sets out recommendations from the Energy-PIECES projects on how to successfully organise, manage and communicate about PhDs and Early Career Researchers’ secondments with a range of policy-making institutions. Having observed an appetite for similar schemes to be run in the future, we draw on our experiences as secondees and scheme organisers to offer our reflections.

Specifically, we detail what we think others could benefit from knowing if they were to organise a similar SSH research-policy engagement scheme in the future. The four sets of recommendations presented in this short publication look at: general organisation for the secondment; use and production of knowledge and research; production of outcomes and outputs, and their related communication; and organisational considerations for scheme organisers.

Whilst our learnings have been deep and varied across the secondments, the recommendations we set out in this report capture some of the most important take-home messages that we suggest could be a basis of any similar future schemes.

Secondee reports

Each of the secondees produced a report based on their experience, access each of them below:

‘Better’ domestic energy advice in England? A narrative literature review. By George Warren and Chris Foulds.

Exploring social value in the context of nationally significant infrastructure projects: a case study of Hinkley Point C. By Pip Roddis and Rosie Robison.

The social dimensions of moving away from gas cookers and hobs: challenges and opportunities in transition to low-carbon cooking. By Rihab Khalid and Chris Foulds.

Policy options for enhancing productive uses of energy in low-resource settings in the Global South. By Stephanie A Hirmer and Rosie Robison.

How local authorities can encourage citizen participation. By Sioned Haf and Rosie Robison.

Governing the UK’s transition to decarbonised heating: lessons from a systematic review of past and ongoing heat transitions. By Lauren Stabler and Chris Foulds.