In a burst of well-intentioned activity, that would also have the potential to boost the bottom line, our HR (HR!) is spearheading /leading/ waltzing into the fray to design a Training Program for Postdocs.
There is potential, yes, potential, to do something good. I can smell it. Training in teaching, training in grant writing, training in managing a lab: these are all good things to learn. Some people will want some of them, other will want or need other training. At a small place, such as the where I am, it is possible to tailor what we offer to what is needed. These are things no one ever even thought about teaching me, and I learned a lot by making mistakes that I probably wish I hadn't made. No, not probably.
Ah, but the meeting yesterday was magnificent (not really). The way the head of HR presented it was an excellent example of administrative weasel. "I'm only the reporter" and "Other people are making the decisions" and "I'm happy to coordinate", she said. I.e., I'm not going to admit I'm in control, so that if you have problems, you can't blame me.
There are some good people, with good heads, involved, and there are some good ideas, including the list above. There was some discussion about whether NIH would allow this (yes) and whether having a second graduate student track would be useful (yes). Then, without actually saying anything overtly, the admin's kicker came out: well, we could charge tuition for this, and of course, it would be mandatory for every postdoc in our (albeit small) medical school.
That was my WTF moment. To my credit, I did not explode, or curse, or refer to anyone's progenitors in derogatory terms. See: old dogs *can*.
What I did say is that if it were not voluntary, the BigDog PI's would never sign on. Period. In tight NIH modular budgets, NO ONE will want to include tuition. Period. And unless the administration was willing to move money from one ledger to another, I did not see how this could generate income.
I made a passionate speech about putting the trainees first, that any program needs to add value to them. The driving question here should be "what do our postdocs need to succeed?" Not all trainees need the same thing, be they grad student or postdoc. And a new foreign Postdoc may not be ready for any of it, and need something else altogether. I explicitly asked "Is this a money making scheme? Or something to add value to our postdocs so they are more employable?"
I know I reached the faculty. The admin/carpet people had their plastic faces on.