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Catch 22
#41
This is really a global problem, not unique to the UK. I just moved to Britain from the states with a freshly minted triple major BA in anthro, history, and classics from a pretty reputable uni for archaeology. As a student in three disciplines that incorporate archaeology in a big way, there was hardly zero training in commercial field work and it was probably much like everywhere else, theory, methods, and discipline history.

The biggest lessons I learned about the field as an undergrad were not in the classroom. If you want the "real" skills you need to go out and earn them (this is not unique to archaeology). I volunteered on a (research) site for three years and made loads of contacts. I attended as many lectures from traveling researchers as I could. There weren't any student organizations for undergrads in archaeology in my state, so I started one. Thats all aside from my non-arch experience in various management roles. I consider myself to be competitive for today's market, despite not having yet worked for a commercial site. I think it is really hard for a university to prepare students for the "real" world anyway. University life is very insulated from the outside world and it is very easy to fall into a trap of the student lifestyle, which is pretty cushy. The best you can do, I think, is teach people things like leadership and team building, of course alongside archaeological methods. However, I am not sure how you teach people to excavate like maniacs under the pressure of a fast approaching deadline without seriously screwing up the data. I think unis should just be a little more honest with students about what the world is like after graduation. It isn't like they are going to shatter anyone's dreams by telling them the raw truth about what life will be like with an archaeology degree...

The rest is really up to the individual, like any discipline. This is the worst time to be a recent grad with any credentials. There is only so much a uni is going to do for you so the rest is up to you to make sure you have done everything in your power to put yourself out there. Recent grads are not really in a position to go the self-employed route (I doubt they would get hired) so the best thing is to just volunteer, do not miss a job listing, and stay positive. Maybe I am just naive and way to optimistic for my own good, being a new graduate. But I think if you really want it then you can have it with enough hard work. I'd rather get paid minimum wage (the only jobs available right now) doing something I truly love than getting minimum wage working retail or something. Stay positive, don't stop working for it, and keep your fingers crossed. I think it is the only thing any new graduate who is serious about archaeology can do.
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#42
I took time out before taking up a degree, and volunteered on a few research excavations, and worked for a commercial unit on a subsistence wage back in 1985. That gave me a total of about three months experience, and a marvellous introduction to the hideous living conditions people were putting up with then (and some clearly couldn't care less about improving them). It almost decided me against carrying on....but after uni I did, and knew what to expect (could it only get better?). If I hadn't experienced commercial work I wouldn't have had a clue, and probably would have appeared a "newbie" on site. Strikes me that distinction is one that should have long since been ironed out, simply because it encourages (out of sheer practical necessity) of favouring the baptised by mud over the squeaky clean, which is a fairly daft way of running the show, to be honest, embitters people on both sides of the rather unnecessary fence, and engenders a lot of posturing (not that the posturing is without basis in that cold wet and muddy reality...). One thought - will we see a return to schemes where the unemployed yet again get seconded out to commercial companies of all types for no pay except subsistence - great for training people up, if they're willing to do that, and definitely cheap for the price - but does anyone want to go down that road again? Different times - surely?
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#43
Quote:However, I am not sure how you teach people to excavate like maniacs under the pressure of a fast approaching deadline without seriously screwing up the data. I think unis should just be a little more honest with students about what the world is like after graduation. It isn't like they are going to shatter anyone's dreams by telling them the raw truth about what life will be like with an archaeology degree...
Also bears repeating. You can't. About the only profession that managed to even try is medicine, and they did that by keeping the residents/registrars up and on-duty for 36+ hours straight...thus risking misdiagnoses and lives in order to give them a taste of 'real life'.
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#44
brazier Wrote:... One thought - will we see a return to schemes where the unemployed yet again get seconded out to commercial companies of all types for no pay except subsistence - great for training people up, if they're willing to do that, and definitely cheap for the price - but does anyone want to go down that road again? Different times - surely?

We did discuss this a few weeks back...(October 23rd 'Archaeologists against the cuts' - thread).....an industrial tribunal has recently ruled that 'volunteer' or 'intern' work, unless it is for a government body or registered charity, should be paid at the minimum wage....So the short answer, unless there is a change in the law, is 'No we won't see a return to such schemes'.....but I imagine that its only a matter of time before somewhere finds a way around the tribunal ruling!!
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
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#45
GnomeKing Wrote: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?....

Yeah, right, and in the meantime those units that don't implement such measures will undercut those that do and put them out of business :face-stir:
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#46
This is situation is very economy dependant. Maybe there are some short memories out there? It was not that long ago before the recession that there were not enough field archaeologists coming out of university and major units were forced to employ geology grads and others if they got unexpected projects. With various levels of disaster. A guy I worked with on a dig had got his first job with a contractor having had two weeks on a training dig and having just finished his A levels. He went on to do an archaeology degree and worked each summer, all summer as a commercial digger for a different contractor. When he left uni as a v.good archaeologist with nearly 2 years digging experience he was only attracted back into the field for a short time because the conditions were so unappealing compared to other options that had opened up to him.

It has never been a necessity to have a degree in archaeology to work as a field archaeologist, it has always been necessary to make and use contacts and keep your ear on the ground to learn who is hiring and firing and what their like to work for. If the quality of graduates is a problem now - and for the last 10 years or so there have been more archaeology students than ever before both ggod and not so good - it is because commercial archaeology is incapable of attracting/recognising the better students and cannot hang on to many of those who do get involved. Pay more, train better investing in a team and treat staff like the asset they are - put some away for a rainy day, or when it stops raining there maybe none left, some companies do do this. Others are a bit complacent becasue of the high turnover of unjaded new gradautes keen to dig who stay for a few years and move on, jaded wrinked and with poorer knees than when they started. Not training people and simply tapping back into this gradaute pool is to explot willingness over experiance and is a very poor proffessional practice leading to a place where we have lots of keen and no experiance, a situation which we may be faced with in the future - the skills drain that has been identified before, and a place where we have been before as a proffession too.

Equally many of the academics training students are, as the thread suggests, the same ones who were in post when the professional field archaeologists, also commenting, were trained. The quality is exactly the same as the people are the same - the very few younger academics who have managed to find university positions have either had no digging experiance to speek of or quite often have had to move freely between both commercial and academic archaeology in order to supplement both carriers. So the future may be brighter than it seems. If thouse with experiance are able to set up their own projects the training they will provide will be closer to commercial recording systems than old pre ppg 16 academic ones. If commercail archaeolgists still have time to record things.

It is also not true that training projects will go with Uni fees - it creates a competitive market some uni's will go down that line, others will impose digging as a major element of the degree and attract students by doing more, and doing it better than before. Some deptments will go bust but that does not mean quality will go it might actuly distill what is there into a smaller pot and force univeristies to free up more of their funds to diversify their degrees. You knever know.

The only thing I know is that these debates were here in the 1990s when I studied, and will proably still be raging in 15 years time. The people who did best got as much experiacne as they could with whoever they could, commercial, academic, over seas or self created no matter. The ones that became jaded fast left fast. But if you want to dig there is always way to make it happen but never expect someone else to do it for you.
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#47
AcademiaTrowl Wrote:This is situation is very economy dependant. Maybe there are some short memories out there? It was not that long ago before the recession that there were not enough field archaeologists coming out of university and major units were forced to employ geology grads and others if they got unexpected projects. With various levels of disaster.

With that said then, if there were to be a recovery on the horizon (unlikely as it is given the slug economy and Tory cuts), would you expect this to be the case again in the future? Of course this would be news to everyone's ears for job security...
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#48
Yes, if construction picks up to 2000-6 levels and the confidence to cover staff pay comes with it. But it will not affect Job security, just availability. The digging end remains, poorly paid and itinerant. More short term contracts, less chance of promotion or longer term contracts as anominity levels with managment goes up. Mostly these things depend on large infrastructure projects - Heathrow, CTRL, A1M1 link or city development. Where there is new development there are archaeolgists, when there is none, there are none. Boom and bust economics. As an industery we cant cope in growth markets as there are not enough people and we cant cope in slumped markets because there are too many. So can we resesion proof archaeology but importantly also boom proof it by maintianing consistent stands and staffing levels? Given many diggers don't stay long and many live in a fantisy world, where they get to do mesolithich archaeology all day, should contractors be investing in everyone who ever picked up a trowl for them?

Its competative out there always has been and with the emphsis on the archaeolgist not the company, individuals have to prove they are worth keeping/emplying. To many diggers, assistent supervisors, supervisors and even PO's spend to much time pretending they know what there talking about because their are too scared to ask, and the higher you get the more scared people are to admit it. Stupid really, if we knew everthing there would be no reason to look for stuff.
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#49
moreno Wrote:The NVQ…if Chez is reading this post, perhaps he can reiterate why he felt this was unfeasible.

If you mean me, I think you are referring to when I spent quite a bit of time trying to understand the economics of the NVQ as I was thinking about becoming a freelance NVQ assessor. From what I remember my analysis of the costs and benefits of the NVQ was that as an independant, freelance assessor I would get a day rate of just over ?100 a day and there was quite a large outlay of time (=money) to get set up, and paying off this outlay was a major factor in meaning that the day rate was so low (about half what it should be) that it was not worth pursuing. So the NVQ is too expensive for archaeologists to self-fund doing the course, yet too cheap to pay independant assessors a meaningful day rate. And with numbers taking the NVQ so low it was not financially worthwhile to become an assessor as the income stream was too unreliable to make the risks stack up.

That does not of course mean that the NVQ is not a great scheme when either or both the trainee and asessor are subsidised by employer or other organisations. It just doesn't stand up in terms of market economics without subsidy (a bit like degrees?)! Subsidised assessor training would perhaps be a way around this problem as it would consequently raise the day rate a fair bit (but still not to anywhere near the ?200+ it should be). The NVQ would still be too cheap to get really good assessors.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

Archaeology is not a Graduate Profession, it is a profession that just happens to have a lot of graduates doing it
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#50
@ Chiz (spelled correctly this time)

Yes, I was referring to what you had mentioned during the Dig Forum meeting in London. I thought it best coming from the original source.

There's recognition and perhaps consensus on the need for an entry level t
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