Last year saw 320 new recruits join the EPO, with an almost even breakdown between the examiner area (169) and non-examiners (151). These new employees were selected from over 1 700 interviewees, who in turn were chosen from some 22 000 applications. By the end of 2005 the total number of employees at the Office had risen to 6 118. As an ever-increasing number of job applications reach the EPO via online media, a media tender for all locations was launched to find the best service providers.
In the EPO’s knowledge-oriented environment, continuous personnel training is the key to success. In 2005, apart from technical instruction for the examining area, well over 1 300 seminars on languages, professional knowledge, IT, communications, human relations and management were organised for more than 11 000 participants, with managerial topics accounting for around 5% of all training.
Management career and assessment centres
In 2005 progress was made on the management career, with a view to improving manager performance. A systematic development programme was designed, providing dedicated management training curricula for all managers. An international tender was published in August for the programmes to be offered to the four levels of management - potential managers, first-time managers, experienced middle managers and senior managers.
Assessment centres have become a standard tool in EPO selection procedures for management positions. Consequently, an international tender for the organisation of assessment centres was carried out. The first assessment centre with the new service was successfully held in October.
A policy on the protection of staff dignity was implemented as from 1 June 2005. In accordance with the policy guidelines, the President and the Staff Committee each nominated one confidential counsellor per place of employment for one year. Counsellor training began in 2005 and is still in progress. The President also appointed external ombudsmen for one year.
Code of conduct
A study with the goal of implementing a code of conduct at the EPO was launched, comparing codes of conduct from different organisations and identifying the main elements that such a code at the EPO should contain. After approval of the findings by the Management Committee, a first draft for a code is in preparation.
“Ethics and science: are they connected?” is the lead title of a series of four lectures being organised at the recommendation of the President with the main objective of increasing staff awareness of the ethical aspects of new technologies. The first of these lectures was given by Professor Bert Gordijn of Nijmegen University in October and concerned ethics and nanotechnology.
Housing the Office’s staff
The purchase contract for the eighth part of the PschorrHöfe complex in Munich was signed in March. Negotiations with the general contractor brought the price down by around EUR 10m. Construction work has already started, so the building is likely to be ready by the scheduled completion date of 31 December 2007.
In 2005 the first phase of the extensive Shell building renovation project in The Hague was completed on schedule and within cost. The second phase is now in progress, and the project is likely to be completed in the course of 2006. The new training centre was officially opened in September.
Fig. 1: Analysis of staff in post on 31 December 2005 by grade and nationality
Fig. 2: Analysis of staff in post on 31 December 2005 by place of employment and grade