One of the challenges that we have the opportunity to address within the framework of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES is that of intensifying and increasing the levels of interchange between researchers in life course and stakeholders in social policy. I would like to emphasise here the basis of that exchange of information: professionals working in social action policies have knowledge and questions which academics must take into account, and, on the other hand, researchers have knowledge which merits the attention of stakeholders in social policies, whether they come from the world of politics, public administration, or the private or non-profit sectors.
The panel discussion organised by LIVES last year had underlined the fact that there was a potential discrepancy between the requirements of stakeholders on the ground and those in research. The NCCR LIVES must take this difficulty into account and provide answers. Various steps that have been taken and others to come in the future will intensify these exchanges, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Important initiatives have been taken in various LIVES research projects at management level, led by different teams who have developed very close working relationships with social stakeholders:
- IP1 is working in close collaboration with the Department of Health and Social Affairs in the Canton of Vaud, in particular with regard to a complementary study funded by the canton on the life courses of low-income earners.
- IP4 is working with both SECO (State Secretariat for Economic Affairs) and the Regional Employment Offices to find routes out of unemployment.
- The research by IP5 takes into account the notion of capabilities within the scope of activation policies for the professional integration of young adults, and collaborations with French-speaking canton administrations are also a reality here.
- We should also mention the international conference on social investment that opens on the 10th April at the Swiss Graduate School of Public Administration (IDHEAP), which will include Prof. Gøsta Esping-Andersen and Prof. Bruno Palier. This theme of social investment will then come up again at the plenary conference which Prof. Giuliano Bonoli will give at the next international conference (9-11 October) of the Society for Longitudinal and Life Course Studies (SLLS) organised by LIVES at the University of Lausanne.
- At management level, and thanks to the financial support of the HES - SO (University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland), from the start of 2014 the NCCR LIVES has got a new Knowledge Transfer Officer: Pascal Maeder’s mandate will be to develop exchanges between social policies and LIVES research, and he will coordinate the editing of the Swiss Dictionary of Social Policies under the direction of Prof. Jean-Michel Bonvin.
When we look at all these exchanges with our partners and the advances made within LIVES, we can see that this national centre of competence in research provides a real opportunity for researchers in universities to really establish themselves in both the Swiss and international landscapes by linking life course and social policies in an innovative way.