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Training TA Professionals

Danielle Bьtschi, Zoya Damaniova, Ventseslav Kovarev and Blagovesta Chonkova

Abstract: Researchers, project managers and communication officers involved in TA projects are faced with a variety of context-dependent challenges which necessitate that TA practitioners constantly reflect upon their practices, innovate and strengthen their skills, making knowledge sharing essential. In the light of this, Bьtschi et al. investigate the needs for and possibilities in practitioners' meetings and debates the different needs from established and newcomer TA organizations. The authors convey lessons learned from four PACITA practitioners meetings about principles of knowledge sharing useful for practitioners' training in the future. And they argue for the necessity for TA institutions and their supporters in European policy to use future implementations of similar formats as a way of building human capacities for TA.

Klьver, Lars, Rasmus Шjvind Nielsen, and Marie Louise Jшrgensen, eds. Policy-Oriented Technology Assessment Across Europe: Expanding Capacities. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. doi: 10.1057/9781137561725.0021.

In this chapter, we discuss the needs for TA professionals' training, taking into consideration both the needs of established TA organizations, as well as those of organizations trying to develop TA activities in their countries. Based on concrete experiences, we shall draw some conclusions on the contribution that training TA professionals has in strengthening and expanding the TA landscape in Europe.

The attainment of an open, inclusive and transparent governance, as well as evidence-based policy making in Europe, requires the development and further enhancement of capacities for providing insight into the opportunities and consequences related to science and technology, by facilitating democratic processes of debate and awareness building and by formulating policy options in the field of science, technology and innovation (STI). Various organizations in Europe undertake activities that are included in the concept of TA. Yet, TA is still performed by relatively small and mostly nationally/regionally focused institutions, which do not have the needed resources and/or the mandate to make the necessary effort to expand the capacity and use of knowledge-based policy making in Europe. In addition, there is a growing tendency in the field of science and technology to move decision making upwards (from the national to the European level), which entails a common effort and a consolidation of expertise from across Europe in doing European-level TA. Furthermore, considering that in many countries there is no institutionalized approach to doing TA, training professionals from those countries is needed in order to strengthen national capacities for evidence-based policy making. These were among the major motivations to form the PACITA consortium and include TA practitioners' training seminars as an integral part of the work programme of the project.

The PACITA training seminars aimed to stir the communication and mutual learning among TA practitioners. They were designed so that researchers, project managers and communication specialists could learn from each other by sharing their knowledge and best practices. Considering the large variety of TA settings in Europe, the training seminars were conceptualized so that participants who aspire the establishment of TA in their own country could learn about the challenges and solutions related to the different settings of TA institutions; they could thus enhance their understanding of TA approaches and methods and increase their capacities in providing knowledge-based policy advice on scienceand technology-related issues. For the professionals who work in established TA institutions, the PACITA training seminars offered an opportunity to broaden their practical knowledge as they could become inspired by the work of their colleagues and share best practices.

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