BAJR Federation Archaeology

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well herein lies the question: are university departments producing archaeologists or graduates who have majored in archaeology?
i would say that the majority of people who study law, medicine, music, sciences, engineering or computer studies do it with the intention of practicing the subject or a branch of it
there is no issue as far as i am concerned with people majoring in archaeology, but then recent graduates cannot come on site and tell my supervisors whatfor; they have to learn to do the job, which means a lot of digging and shovelling shit in order to get to the heady heights of assistant supervisor
just cos they've done a dissertation on a subject does not mean that they will recognise it in the flesh - not that i will deny them their academic knowledge - just that i have run sites where recent grads were arguing from a point of ignorance with the supervisor about what was and was not an archaeological structure, it was only after i had gone back to the office and got a load of literature for the supervisor to demonstrate to this individual that they accepted the structure
an isolated case? i don't believe so - although this guy was unique in his conviction
insofar as working in commercial archaeology - i didn't say that - academics who work in the field need a good skill base too
rather, there is a real need for the Bournemouth course for field archaeologists - perhaps into which one could transfer after time doing the more general majoring in archaeology period?
the universities + the IFA have been specificity aware of this situation for at least a decade - when one looks into the practicalities of orientating courses to commercial field skills many problems are found...

ultimately I think many will agree that field skills/excavation skills are learned through long practice on-the-job....
....there are therefore very concrete practical limits of how a university can teach those skills, and the Responsibility must fall on those who are Making Money through archaeological excavation of sites.

It is they (if they actually care) and their product which suffers through lack of appropriate skills - it is essential for a Grown-Up Profession to provision itself with a Future through passing on of training and job-specific skills to the Next Generation, and by pushing for higher standards of attainment to continually Improve its product.

Universities can not be expected to take responsibility for the failure of the profession to address this issue.

Furthermore, as has been said before, archaeology is much more than just excavation....many aspects of research, data collation, analysis and insight use materials already excavated....the study of Humanities past is rather Grander and more Broad than the point of a trowel.........

Universities provide skills in learning, foundations of knowledge, and modes of critical awareness - they should not expected to take the slack for Unit Directors either too Incompetent or too Selfish to equip their industry with a Future.
gwyl Wrote:i would say that the majority of people who study law, medicine, music, sciences, engineering or computer studies do it with the intention of practicing the subject or a branch of it
Well, in most of those fields you name, a graduate of a 3-year university course is not considered employable without some form of additional (on the job or otherwise) training and/or experience.
BRahn Wrote:Well, in most of those fields you name, a graduate of a 3-year university course is not considered employable without some form of additional (on the job or otherwise) training and/or experience.
which is why i suggested that at a point within the university programme the degree should take split between those who only wish to major in archaeology and those who wish to be archaeologists - as in Denmark and Germany, i think - the universities cannot absolve themselves entirely of responsibility (not that i am saying that units should not be training staff*, by any stretch of the imagination) as archaeological research and commercial archaeology are interdependant - formerly Rewley House ran with a number of units and bodies an 'In-House' training scheme which involved both book-work and more practical work. that would be good to combine that sort of ongoing training; but the current economic conditions do not best lend themselves to such a solution

* on that note, when i returned to the UK in the early 90s after having worked in France, i was told by the finds supervisor of a well-known commercial wing of an educational charity that training was not part of their remit; i would like to think that has changed
GnomeKing Wrote:ultimately I think many will agree that field skills/excavation skills are learned through long practice on-the-job....
it is essential for a Grown-Up Profession to provision itself with a Future through passing on of training and job-specific skills to the Next Generation,
Universities can not be expected to take responsibility for the failure of the profession to address this issue

Well said, GnomeKing.

And also, BRahn: "Well, in most of those fields you name, a graduate of a 3-year university course is not considered employable without some form of additional (on the job or otherwise) training and/or experience."

Spot on.
As has perhaps emerged from this thread it should be acknowledged as a joint responsibility. Universities should have the capacity to ensure a significant vocational element forms part of the degree whilst commercial archaeology should embrace the need to provide field skills training to build on the basic grounding ideally provided at an undergrad level. If my own experience is anything to go by the commercial part of this bargain is largely overlooked due to lack of funding. There is no lack of incentive, the blockage is one of resources. The vast majority of project budgets barely cover the esssentials for completion of the job let alone provide scope for in-job training. Whilst we persist collectively in slashed to the bone competitive tenders with the odd exception there is never likely to be scope for the spare funds necessary to cover such essential training. It brings us back to the same old chestnut- how do we break out of this insane downward spiral. IfA, Unionisation, both? We otherwise appear to be doomed to an endless description of various facets of the same old problem- our profession is underesourced.
So Universities are not responsible for producing skilled field archaeologists and the commercial units are running with costs cut so close to the bone that training is pie in the sky. This leaves things to the individual if you want to be a good field archaeologist you have to find the training where ever you can either volunteering or paying for additional courses.

So how come so many people, me included, follow this route knowing that there will be no financial reward?

Isn't this at the heart of the problem? So many of us are so committed to archaeology that we eventually sellout in one way or another to stay in the profession or leave and at some level always regret it. It's a way of life not a job and there are always others out there desperate to do what we doSad
Just as a little aside, I did an impromptu straw poll a few years back in a portakabin crammed with around 15 very wet diggers enjoying the usual July weather we get in this country these days, and it turned out that NOT A SINGLE ONE had ever read a commercial site report, and if my memory serves me right only one didn't have an archaeology degree.....eeerrrr..... :0
Herne Wrote:As has perhaps emerged from this thread it should be acknowledged as a joint responsibility. Universities should have the capacity to ensure a significant vocational element forms part of the degree whilst commercial archaeology should embrace the need to provide field skills training to build on the basic grounding ideally provided at an undergrad level.

Perhaps addressing the shortfall in dig skills may be achieved through adult continuing education? There have been cuts to CE departments. Perhaps resurrecting CE departments (some even) to provide a venue for offering vocational training in commercial archaeology would be an option. The course would be supported by enrolment. If affordable, I have no doubt there would be no shortage of enrolment. It would be a practical way for archaeology undergrads/grads to learn the skills needed to obtain first time employment. If this option proved viable, then it could be widened to incorporate other skill modules commensurate to other archaeology professionals. Obviously the course would need vetting, and a stamp of approval by (insert relevant acronym). The topic was raised at the most recent dig forum meeting held in London. It seemed well received after a discussion relating to affordability and practicality facets (assessors, assessment, and availability) regarding the IFA?s proposal: http://www.archaeologists.net/learning/nvq
Also, see the CBA in the article ?Engaging with the Historic Environment: Continuing Education? supporting the points you raised. Now, what do we do with the information and put that information into action? Perhaps CE is an option to a way forward?

http://www.britarch.ac.uk/sites/festival...%201.0.pdf

Contributing to Wax's post (# 27), I would agree that for many of us we have to seek out our own training and "own" our professional development. I know there is information available:


http://www.archaeologists.net/atf

http://www.britarch.ac.uk/training/

[FONT=&quot]http://www.torc.org.uk/[/FONT]


Geez, I must find something other to occupy my Friday nights....
Jack Wrote:This is a very poignant point at the moment in the commercial world, combined with the 'skills drain' caused by a lack of work and many experienced diggers realising that they can earn far more dirving dustbin lorries etc.

.

I've heard this sort of thing before and it isn't actually true. There seems to be this myth that anyone who works on a construction site gets paid far more than Archaeologists. In fact groundworkers usually get paid less than ?7.00 per hour and quite often it's the national minimum wage.

So yes, unbelieveable but true, there are people out there getting worse pay than Archaeologists.
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