BAJR Federation Archaeology
The Plight of UK Archaeology 2009 - Printable Version

+- BAJR Federation Archaeology (http://www.bajrfed.co.uk)
+-- Forum: BAJR Federation Forums (http://www.bajrfed.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?fid=3)
+--- Forum: The Site Hut (http://www.bajrfed.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?fid=7)
+--- Thread: The Plight of UK Archaeology 2009 (/showthread.php?tid=1456)

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9


The Plight of UK Archaeology 2009 - BAJR Host - 11th March 2009

Post from BAJR Blog by Matt Nicol

I've come to a point in my life where I can think it all over. This is probably because of the desperate situation UK archaeology is facing due to the deepening recession, it's all very closed doors, redundency after redundency, 100's of archaeologists losing their jobs, probably the worst recession in 100 years and the worst for the profession. So many highly qualified and experienced archaeologists with a passion for what they do best, now unemployed... We hear of many reduncies in the news but what about the archaeological profession, especially in the UK?

It's an amazing subject, for me I am so passionate about the subject, to physically try to unravel our past is something I feel lucky to be able to do and this can take you anywhere in the world... one minute looking for archaeological sites on a very very cold and wet winters day in the UK, or caught in a sandstorm on a walk-over survey in the desert, to evaluation trenching in some very beautiful place, or coming across a UXO or two next to the most fascinating archaeological site... or, coming into land after a great aerial photographic trip to photograph sites when all of a sudden the windspeed drops and the microlight drops like a stone just missing the ground after full power to recover... the variety of archaeology, the excavations, the discoveries, the amazing people, it's such a unique profession...

But there is something bugging me...

When the next economic boom comes, I worry for the situation not improving for all those that especially work or want to work in commercial archaeology, if you are lucky enough to still have a job in the profession that is. Poor pay and working conditions, the commercial sector exploiting the skills of highly qualified people when the construction industry as a whole is a well-paid sector, ?10-?15 per hour for a painter and decorator for example and I have seen these tradesman paint doors from the bottom up, there really is something wrong, not quite right. I have heard that developers will pay whatever commercial units set their rates at. In all fareness archaeology does suffer under commercial, commercial has it's good points, without PPG16, etc, much of our heritage would have been lost under a pile of modern developments but poorly paid workers leads to bad workmanship, i believe in doing things right and to IFA standards, ive seen it many times though and had to pick up the
pieces on sites under pressure to meet deadlines...

Surely it's about time the commercial sector really started to move the profession forward, or at least plan ahead inpreperation for the next boom...it's an opportunity now to do so.

The recent Time Team programme really surprised me to, I watched it purely because of my interest in the Iron Age/Roman transition, Idon't want it so much these days. Not revuing fieldwalking results before trenching...what is that all about? Im sure Time Team give archaeology a bad name some times, they certainly show the fun side. They should show the other side to it, the surveying, the recording system, the recording of finds, just how much is involved, they should even show how an archaeologist excavates a feature. It doesn't have to be boring either for the viewer. Lets give archaeology a real boost. This would probably help archaeologists that are unemployed now, getting work elsewhere in other professions if the programme really showed just how skilled archaeologists can be. That way employers would really understand the background, the behind the scenes... Not the usual "Have you found any gold?" I sound like Victor Meldrew, really Im not, I just love archaeology...Nobody
seems to be prepared to really overhaul the profession, we might like all things old, we might enjoy our unique camaraderie on site, but lets stick together, afterall this is the 21st century...archaeologists are priceless...

You can see all comments on this post here:
http://bajrblog.wordpress.com/posts/#comments

?When a sinister person means to be your enemy, they always start by trying to become your friend.?
William Blake


The Plight of UK Archaeology 2009 - kevin wooldridge - 11th March 2009

It will be interesting to see what shape and form the Brave New World of post-recession archaeology takes and more importantly for us practioners, where and how we will fit in.

My own opinion at this present time is that the recession could provide an opportunity to really advance the pay and conditions of archaeologists, but only if the post-recession employment pool is much much smaller than it has been over the past few years and there is a a greater investment in technology to take over many of the tasks that have been labour intensive up until now.

That's not to say that there will be less archaeologists or archaeology around. I just think (sadly) that there will be a smaller number of people earning a sole-living from archaeology (which to be fair hasn't really provided much of a living anyway up until now......)



[Image: 3334488270_7156e71b8b_t.jpg]

With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...



The Plight of UK Archaeology 2009 - trowelmonkey - 11th March 2009

I've been thinking about the Brave New World for some time. In the last five years there's been a noticable reduction in the man hours required in survey and associated graphics. The increase in online resources and fat client data processing tools have vastly improved the turn around time of DBAs and writing up. The next step seems to me that we need to get smarter in how we target excavation. And this means looking at the theory side of things again. I think there's alot to me learnt (not whole sale lifted, mind) from other digging traditions. We particularly lag behind the North Americans in developing exacavation strategy as a discipline.

The thing that concerns me is that if the pool of archaeologists gets too small then we will have to return to using labourers when a large human input is required. I would not like to see a similar situation to Ireland with a G.O. class emerging. In my very strong opinion who-so-ever is carrying out the work must be able to recognise if not the evidence then anomolies to be flagged up. Because technology is decreasing the amount of personnel required at the top end the bottleneck will yet narrower.

I'm not sure what the answer is. I agree with Kevin. Now is the time to start developing a new professional infrastructure.


The Plight of UK Archaeology 2009 - Gog - 11th March 2009

Quote:quote:Originally posted by kevin wooldridge
[My own opinion at this present time is that the recession could provide an opportunity to really advance the pay and conditions of archaeologists, but only if the post-recession employment pool is much much smaller than it has been over the past few years and there is a a greater investment in technology to take over many of the tasks that have been labour intensive up until now.

Cripes - now I know how Ned Ludd felt!


The Plight of UK Archaeology 2009 - kevin wooldridge - 11th March 2009

Ned Ludd - I worked with him!!

[Image: 3334488270_7156e71b8b_t.jpg]

With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...



The Plight of UK Archaeology 2009 - tom wilson - 12th March 2009

Quote:quote:Originally posted by trowelmonkey

I think there's alot to me learnt (not whole sale lifted, mind) from other digging traditions. We particularly lag behind the North Americans in developing exacavation strategy as a discipline.

It's off topic, but could you explain what the Americans do when digging that we should do? The general consensus in Britain is that the Americans are fanatical about sampling (a good thing) but useless with stratigraphy. Perhaps this view is outdated...

Quote:quote:
The thing that concerns me is that if the pool of archaeologists gets too small then we will have to return to using labourers when a large human input is required. I would not like to see a similar situation to Ireland with a G.O. class emerging.

Hard-hearted though this sounds, it needs to be much more difficult to become an archaeologist. When the last recession ended, excavation teams were filled by a great wave of new recruits, many of whom had no experience and no degree (or who were still studying). Anyone who could hold a trowel could be a digger. Hence, for diggers, supply and demand will be all take and no give until there are real barriers to entry into the profession based on whether you can actually do the job.

What those barriers should be is a different matter.
Academic qualifications?
IFA membership?
City and Guilds or equivalent qualification?
Chartered status?
Freemasons?

freeburmarangers.org


The Plight of UK Archaeology 2009 - Plautus - 12th March 2009

The trouble with archaeology, is that it is run by people who have a vested interest in the status quo. Company directors make a lot by paying archaeologists as a Labourers rate and charging clients at a proffesionals rate for their services. Is this likely to change? Job losses have been primarily from the lower levels of the profession, when the recession is over and jobs start to come in again, it seems likely that the people at the top wil still be at the top and will continue as before.
The IFA provides a handy means for companies to set wages, but as the upper ranks of the IFA are populated by company owners I think little will change.



The Plight of UK Archaeology 2009 - tom wilson - 12th March 2009

Quote:quote:Originally posted by Plautus

The trouble with archaeology, is that it is run by people who have a vested interest in the status quo. Company directors make a lot by paying archaeologists as a Labourers rate and charging clients at a proffesionals rate for their services.

If you have any evidence that the ratio of charge-out rates to pay rates is different in archaeology to other areas of the construction industry I'm sure we'd all be pleased to hear it.

In my humble opinion, archaeological managers' main worry is not their profit margin but simply winning work, so charge-out rates will be shaved down to the bone, particularly in our current economic climate.

freeburmarangers.org


The Plight of UK Archaeology 2009 - Oxbeast - 12th March 2009

I agree tom, (until recently) anyone who could hold a trowel could be a digger.
it is supply and demand which is the problem. however, Archaeology is now almost entirely an all graduate-entry profession. I think we won't have quite so many willing graduates over the next few years, certainly with top-up fees.

however, to follow on from the comparision made at the top of the page, anyone who can hold a paintbrush can be a painter/decorator, though they still get paid more than most field archaeologists. Perhaps its because they are taken more seriously as a trade or profession, rather than having the legacy of the amateur and part timer past...


The Plight of UK Archaeology 2009 - tom wilson - 12th March 2009

Quote:quote:Originally posted by Oxbeast

I agree tom, (until recently) anyone who could hold a trowel could be a digger.
it is supply and demand which is the problem. however, Archaeology is now almost entirely an all graduate-entry profession.

Everyone trying to get a job in the mid-nineties needed a degree too. At the end of the decade that wasn't the case at all, at least in London. That precisely illustrates the point: when there are fewer jobs than diggers, companies will take the 'best' ones, and impose arbitrary ways of doing so like immediately binning all CVs that don't have a degree on them. When there are fewer diggers than jobs, and companies get desperate for staff, as one PM (jokingly) said to me 'if you shaved a monkey we'd put it on site'.

So, the market reacts to a labour shortage with a reduction in skills requirement, whereas what we want is to react to a labour shortage with an improvement in pay and conditions.

What we need is a shaven monkey test.

freeburmarangers.org