One of the main missions of CERN is education. Several programmes are dedicated to training students. Others, like the Fellowship programme, offer graduates to start a career and become professionals in their fields. All these young and fresh people provide very valuable contributions to our Organization.
At the same time, it is important to remember that they (especially the students) are here to learn from our professional staff for their future career. This is the correct exchange: they bring their dedicated work to our projects and they gain experience by working with our staff. There’s no better way to learn than on-the-job.
However they should not be considered as missing staff, with the exact same requirements expected from the CERN staff. Potential missing staff in some areas is a separate issue, and educational programmes are not designed to make up for it. On-the-job learning and training are not separated but dynamically linked together, benefiting to both parties.
In my three years of operation, I have unfortunately witnessed cases where CERN duties and educational training became contradictory and even conflicting. This has particularly been the case when the requirements of the CERN supervisor conflict with the expected time dedicated to a doctoral student’s thesis. Some students would become hostages, torn between their CERN supervisor and their thesis advisor, usually located in his/her remote Institute. This is a very uncomfortable situation for students, which can even endanger his/her thesis. The message would then be given to both sides: the CERN supervisors should not consider students or fellows to be their missing staff, and Institutes are required to keep a close contact with their own students and exercise continued supervision of their work. In my mind, the success of the CERN educational programme requires both sides.
Conclusion: The realization of projects and education, for everyone's benefit, go together. Hand in hand, future scientists, engineers, technicians and administrative members collaborate for the best research.