BAJR Federation Archaeology
Catch 22 - Printable Version

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Catch 22 - kevin wooldridge - 6th November 2010

Quote... 'many experienced diggers realising that they can earn far more driving dustbin lorries etc.'

I was told not so long ago that there were cleaners at our university who earned more than archaeologists. I imagine that I was supposed to express shock at how undervalued, 'qualified archaeologists' were in the current job market,.... but I pointed out that this was actually a GOOD thing as it demonstrated that a small group of disadvantaged employees uniting and fighting to improve their pay and conditions could succeed in their struggle!! I am still trying to work out at which point that statement confused my archaeological friends!!


Catch 22 - BAJR - 6th November 2010

Time to get the Digger Charter moving!


Catch 22 - Dinosaur - 6th November 2010

All this talk about vocational training by universities is rather overlooking the fact that the average university hasn't got a 12-months-a-year site available for the lttle darlings to practice digging on? Buying large plots of land in the centre of old towns (which is pretty much the only place they'd be guaranteed of large quantities of stratified deposits) would be just a tad expensive? The typical university training dig currently is conducted for a couple of weeks a year on someone else's land, who needs to use it for something else the rest of the year. The only realistic way at the moment of giving students any significant level of site experience would be longish placements with commercial units, which under the current regime isn't a goer since any unit doing that would immediately be accused of undercutting and using cheap labour....and no unit is going to pay full wages to 'trainees' when they can get 'experienced' diggers for the same money....as the heading says, Catch 22...


Catch 22 - moreno - 6th November 2010

Certainly there would be restrictions to what could be offered by universities and continuing education. Let’s not view this as a roadblock to offering a level of training to individuals seeking commercial archaeology employment. Does one really need a site to be instructed on recording methods, site photography, using a transit, and which end of the tape to hold? Community oriented projects come to mind where potential dig staff may cut their teeth.

Dinosaur Wrote:Buying large plots of land in the centre of old towns (which is pretty much the only place they'd be guaranteed of large quantities of stratified deposits) would be just a tad expensive?


A fish tank, much cheaper and easier to demonstrate with and carry to one’s vehicle. Skills to prepare for employment, some things can only come with experience.


Dinosaur Wrote:The only realistic way at the moment of giving students any significant level of site experience would be longish placements with commercial units, which under the current regime isn't a goer since any unit doing that would immediately be accused of undercutting and using cheap labour....and no unit is going to pay full wages to 'trainees' when they can get 'experienced' diggers for the same money....as the heading says, Catch 22...


Perhaps at the moment, but isn’t this what needs addressing?
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Catch 22 - JAW - 6th November 2010

Well I seem to have opened a can of worms with my 'Catch 22' article even if it is an old can of worms. I have seen many good suggestions in this debate. Personally I think commercial units should be linked to University degree courses and it should be made VERY clear to potential students of archaeology at their university interviews, that to be a commercial archaeologist involves much more than academic ability. Perhaps the best way forward is for some of the university fees paid should be used to fund the training of students within commercial units, instead of (or as well as) providing field schools provided by their own academic staff. Particularly, as the compulsive field school training element on a degree course is often paid on top of the normal tuition fees.

With the increase of tuition fees, it seems a reasonable outcome. If the training situation does not change soon, especially in this financial climate, not only will we lose our University Archaeology Departments, possibly for good, we will also lose a qualified and skilled workforce to manage our heritage which may have far reaching implications in other sectors such as tourism and construction. The introduction of a 'digging charter' is definitely a good start. Don't the Archaeology Departments of our University's realise that they need to get their heads out of the sand now, or they may not have any students left to teach and then their own jobs will be on the line!


Catch 22 - BAJR - 6th November 2010

I think you are right, that the heads of departments better start thinking about the future, as they are walking a plank at teh moment. They may soon find themselves out of a job, unless we can all get together and support each other. In that respect commercial academic tie ups... shared resources...etc... we have to be flexible and imaginative. and there is no point in ignoring it.


Catch 22 - Madweasels - 6th November 2010

First of all, why is it that the units, who pay god awful money, have hardly any training schemes, set terrible conditions, rarely reward experience, always blame someone else for their lack of qualified fodder? It is always someone else's fault as far as they are concerned. They suck in the millions from developer funding, spill hardly any of it into the HE sector or Museum sector - and then expect universities and museums to a) supply them with fully trained staff who they can pay a pittance to (other professions laugh at us for this approach) and then b) expect the public sector to take all their finds and records with hardly any appropriate depostion fee or endowment (which they could or ought to be getting from their clients - but don't). They have set themselves on the greed first route - pamper the clients, f**k the rest of the discipline if they can't keep up but woe betide anyone else if they don't do as they want.

Anyway, Jaw's sensible and constructive views mirrors those of Anthony Sinclair (HEA Subject Centre Director) who says, in the recently published Schlanger and Aitchison (eds) set of papers "Archaeology and the Global Economic Crisis", that (p.43)

"The current system of archaeological training could be

7. transformed to forge a new working relationship in which students would
balance work in contracting firms whilst at the same time studying for a degree in
archaeology. Some of the credit (assessment) for the degree would then be given
to work-based learning. Although there is already an NVQ in Archaeological
Practice, within which credit is already gained for work-based learning, a degree
from a traditional university is likely to be a more attractive qualification for
such students since it would offer future employability skills beyond one sector of
employment. This would be of interest even to students not planning to continue
into professional archaeology since work experience itself enhances employability."

He also suggests a form of tiered university education in which some (the traditional universities) went in one direction (academic) while others (new universities) could have a more vocational approach.

Get the set of papers here. It makes very, very interesting reading:-

http://ace-archaeology.eu/fichiers/25Archaeology-and-the-crisis.pdf


Catch 22 - BAJR - 7th November 2010

Quote:a new working relationship in which students would
balance work in contracting firms whilst at the same time studying for a degree in
archaeology. Some of the credit (assessment) for the degree would then be given
to work-based learning. Although there is already an NVQ in Archaeological
Practice, within which credit is already gained for work-based learning, a degree
from a traditional university is likely to be a more attractive qualification for
such students since it would offer future employability skills beyond one sector of
employment. This would be of interest even to students not planning to continue
into professional archaeology since work experience itself enhances employability."

So true I feel it should be said again.

The idea is there, the will .. as yet is to appear. I do know that more companies are seeing the benefit of a trained workforce ( one almost wants to say 'duh' ) and are starting to look at implementation. after all, even a trained mobile workforce benefits the whole as well.... train a person who moves to another unit and you will receive another who has been trained elsewhere..

Strong leadership and opportunity is needed. THE NVQ... to be frank was a wet blanket on the training scheme... it may be regenerated, but there are other ways, as discussed above.


Catch 22 - moreno - 7th November 2010

Dr. Sinclair has been focused on archaeology and contemporary society and a vocal proponent for some time. He’s a very popular lecturer at the University of Liverpool.

Madweasels Wrote:“while others (new universities) could have a more vocational approach”
.

This reminds me of the Polytechnic. There is a similar band of university in the States called the Community College. The college often functions as a filter for students to enable them to go on to mainstream universities, or at some colleges take vocational training.

@ BAJR Admin

Discussions with individuals and comments appearing in some posts on the BARJ forums seem to indicate the will is there. Perhaps what is missing is a collection of influential individuals (unit directors, academic subject directors) etc. geared to working toward a common purpose i.e. developing a method for preparing graduates for employment in entry level commercial archaeology.

The NVQ…if Chez is reading this post, perhaps he can reiterate why he felt this was unfeasible.


Catch 22 - GnomeKing - 7th November 2010

Dinosaur Wrote:The only realistic way at the moment of giving students any significant level of site experience would be longish placements with commercial units, .

No no no - training and a the reality of a variably skilled workforce must be fully integrated into the commercial systems >>> i.e. differential pay, costed for + implemented in-house training, real professional development...

why do commercial units still persist in believing that universities should do all the work for them?


Kevin + BAJR yet again make good points...

'powerful' individuals are failing to make this happen, not any nebulous 'economic' situation....