3.6R&D personnel in the public sector

By Peter Viaene (EWI).

Over the past five years, the number of research staff has increased both in companies and in the public sector. The public sector groups together all research institutes from the higher education sector (HES), the government sector (GOV), and the private not-for-profit sector (PNP). The majority of the R&D personnel (62.3%) work in the private sector (BES). The overall share of the public component (PNP, HES, and GOV) rather declines since 2012. The HES component was the most important element of the public component (with 14,107 FTE or 73.7%) in 2017, followed by the GOV component (4,767 FTE or 24.9%).

The R&D staff within the non-profit organizations (public sector) counted more than 19,000 full-time equivalents in 2017. This figure corresponds with about 32,300 headcount, of which more than 22,900 researchers and approximately 9,400 technical and other personnel. The breakdown of R&D staff by gender shows that around 15,000 women and 17,200 men are employed in the public sector on R&D activities. One in three of the R&D personnel in the public sector has granted a Ph.D (11,000 headcount).

The R&D personnel in the GOV and HERD (2017) can be broken down by different fields of science. For the GOV sector, this indicates the dominant position of engineering and technology. For the HES sector, the most important fields of science are the medical sciences, the natural sciences, and the social sciences.

81.2% of the R&D personnel working in the HES on R&D activities in Flanders are researchers (2017). This figure is high compared to the other European countries and much higher than the EU-28 average. Approximately 64% of the R&D personnel (2017) in the GOV in Flanders are also researchers. Once again, this figure is higher than in France, Germany, and the EU-28 average, but lower than in most of the Scandinavian countries.

With a figure of 42.4% for female researchers working in the higher education (HES), Flanders again compares favourably with neighbouring countries (Germany and France), but the Scandinavian countries show higher rates here. For female staff working in public research centres (GOV), Flanders has a score almost similar to Germany and France, but, once again, cannot match the performance of the northern European countries. 

Figure 1. International comparison of the share of female researchers in GOV and HES (in headcount)

HESGOVFinland (2016)Norway (2016)Sweden* (2015)Denmark* (2016)the Netherlands* (2016)Belgium* (2015)Flanders (2017)Austria* (2015)Germany* (2016)France* (2015)Japan* (2016)0,00%0,05%0,10%0,15%0,20%0,25%0,30%0,35%0,40%0,45%0,50%0,55%Percentage of female researchersFinland (2016)Norway (2016)Sweden* (2015)Denmark* (2016)the Netherlands* (2016)Belgium* (2015)Flanders (2017)Austria* (2015)Germany* (2016)France* (2015)Japan* (2016)0,000,050,100,150,200,250,300,350,400,450,500,55GOV: 0,4668% HESGOVFinland (2016)Norway (2016)Sweden* (2015)Denmark* (2016)the Netherlands* (2016)Belgium* (2015)Flanders (2017)Austria* (2015)Germany* (2016)France* (2015)Japan* (2016)0,00%0,10%0,20%0,30%0,40%0,50%Percentage of female researchersFinland (2016)Norway (2016)Sweden* (2015)Denmark* (2016)the Netherlands* (2016)Belgium* (2015)Flanders (2017)Austria* (2015)Germany* (2016)France* (2015)Japan* (2016)0,000,100,200,300,400,50 HESGOVFinland (2016)Norway (2016)Sweden* (2015)Denmark* (2016)the Netherlands* (2016)Belgium* (2015)Flanders (2017)Austria* (2015)Germany* (2016)France* (2015)Japan* (2016)0,00%0,10%0,20%0,30%0,40%0,50%Percentage of female researchersFinland (2016)Norway (2016)Sweden* (2015)Denmark* (2016)the Netherlands* (2016)Belgium* (2015)Flanders (2017)Austria* (2015)Germany* (2016)France* (2015)Japan* (2016)0,000,100,200,300,400,50

* Denmark: provisional; France and Sweden (GOV): estimate; Belgium, Germany (HES), Sweden: break in time series; Austria, Japan, Germany (GOV), the Netherlands (GOV): other definition

Source: OECD database, Main Science and Technology Indicators.