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Southport - support or betrayal?
P Prentice Wrote:delay may well be a costly factor in any industry but proper regard for project management should reduce unneccessary risk
archaeology is no different in this respect from diverse other specialisms involved in development. 'delay' is a mantra for the phillistine and should be expunged from archaeological vocabulary in favour of 'contingency'

Forgive me but if a proper regard was shown for professional project management there would only ever be the word "contingency".

There should already be a very close working relationship between commercial archaeologists and the contractors on a JOINT project plan as archaeology is always going to be a high risk to the dreaded time-cost-quality project management model.

(Sorry, slightly off topic, but some examples of commercial archaeology "project management" I have seen is laughable by industry standards. One size does not fit all - you can't copy and paste a project plan...)
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Merlot in one hand, Cigar in the other; body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "WOO HOO, what a ride!
Relictor Wrote:Health and Safety and Insurance are unnecessary obstacles !!!!!!!

I think the statement was badly worded and that what they meant was that there are no health and safety grounds for excluding volunteers from excavations. As long as the contractor has appropriate insurance, everyone has has read (and understood) the risk assessment and method statements and the correct PPE has been provided there should be no problems. As has already been said here (I think), health and safety is an easy excuse trotted out to exclude volunteers and save a bit of work for those running the job.
D. Vader
Senior Consultant

Vader Maull & Palpatine
Archaeological Consultants

A tremor in the Force. The last time I felt it was in the presence of Tony Robinson.
deadlylampshade Wrote:Forgive me but if a proper regard was shown for professional project management there would only ever be the word "contingency".

It'll only be 'contingency' amongst archaeologists. When work has to stop on site it will only ever be 'delay' or 'standing time' to the client and construction contractors. And even with the best project management in the world you can only manage and hopefully minimise the risks. if you find Hadrian's palace despite a deatiled DBA, geophysics and trial trenching, they are still going to have to wait until you've finished... Unless Mr Pickles decides it's a barrier to growth that should be swept aside.
D. Vader
Senior Consultant

Vader Maull & Palpatine
Archaeological Consultants

A tremor in the Force. The last time I felt it was in the presence of Tony Robinson.
This does all give me a slightly uneasy feeling, although use of the terms 'betrayal' is a bit unhelpful and potentially inflammatory.

Having tried to read through the document but not really having enough time (I wish I had the sort of time that those drawing up clearly do but I'll come back to that) it seems like a bit of a 'Neville Chamberlain' moment. An attempt to appease before desolation is rained down upon us.

What I can't understand about it is the need to make some of the more radical and 'progressive' (really!) suggestions. Instead of building on and improving what already exists it's all about making philosophical changes, many of which I wasn't aware were current thinking (but I am obviously not keeping up). I'm not entirely sure who these proposals are intended to help - is the group of people putting them together really that representative of the bulk of people working in archaeology? The vast majority of those are surely working in development control work, what we hilariously call 'commercial' and yet there seems little acknowledgement of that, rather a lot of theory about the nature of what we do. It also seems to have a lot of unqualified statements and what might be described as assumptions - the references seem to give up after the first few pages.

I assume this is to protect 'the archaeology' - ah, for the sake of 'the archaeology', a common topic on this forum, but one that seems to miss the point that 'the archaeology' is nothing without archaeologists, and right now we have probably one of the biggest, most skilled, and best resourced groups of archaeologists in the world, which is surely the best thing for 'the archaeology'. The archaeologists need to be protected and valued in order to get the best out of 'the archaeology'. Extreme examples perhaps but change the word archaeology to healthcare, or security - presumably in order for those things to be provided well we would want practitioners that are adequately recompensed, trained etc.

Part of the problem, I feel, is trying to present a united front on behalf of all archaeology, when what we do is in many cases very different. We could be building on what has gone on over the last 20 years, instead of remodelling it. However, it is up for consultation so I will try and read it properly and get back to them, as I recommend every does.

Perhaps it is time for a separate organisation, a union or whatever, to represent the bulk of people working in archaeology today, who pay their taxes, carry out their job to the best of their ability, and do not deserve to loose their jobs.
I think that RedEarth's 'appeasement' suggestion might be valid here. I am still taking this stuff in - and find it hard too to really understand which decade I am living in. It is almost like a manifesto, in parts, for a late 1960s Rescue era tacked on to an early PPG16 policy.

Just one of the many things spinning through my mind - what became of the senior management in the units complaints about the lack of skills coming out of the universities? Will they now accept volunteers on the job who may not have much experience other than enthusiasm - because where did they get their experience? Will they exclude volunteers with no experience? If they do not, what does this mean about their approach to standards of excavation and recording? If they do, then they are surely eroding the profession - but then a free, slave workforce would be so much cheaper to run than a paid workforce.

But Volunteer management is not the same as employment management. There will still have to be some sort of contractual arrangement in order that both sides understand what is expected of them.

As someone said above, this is Big Society creeping into the Private sector - which is really not what is expected. Why on earth is it being considered? The voluntary sector in archaeology do want to be more involved - and it has always been my belief that we should be making more opportunities for them by supporting the local societies and YACs. We should be engaging them in the archives (where they exist - London's and York's archives are very good examples - no doubt others exist), in the post-ex of backlog sites. And if field work is what some (because not all of them want or are able to dig) then those of us pros who work with the voluntary sector should be given more support from the units (cheap or free access to some of the professional skills in the units - surveying is one that always comes to mind). That should be the arrangement - the units give greater support to the voluntary sector, not the volunteers go on site to support the units.
@Madweasels: Public participation is not limited to volunteer participation. Much of the reference to public participation in the draft seemed to be about dissemination of information to the public, be it via open days, sign posting, local media, or inter
i can see why there is unease and i can see why there might be resentment from professionals who cant find a job - we are in a recession and lots of other people are in the same boat. there is nothing in the proposal which condones the exploitation of free labour at the expense of professional jobs. the reverse might be true if you consider that each amateur will require professional supervision. clearly some amatuers will acquire skill sets that threaten professional jobs but how likely is it they will be willing to turn up for 8 hour days 5 days a week, rain or shine, autumn, winter and spring blizzard, and reliably enough to fulfil project needs? i would suggest that suitably able unemployed people would fall foul of their unemployment benefit conditions and any that dont would probably want to be paid for their efforts - so by definition wont be amateur!!
I don't really believe it is meaning using volunteers in place of paid archaeologists but it isn't clear in places. However, there does seem to be talk about training and improving understanding of aspects of PPS5 for the volunteer sector. I've mentioned concern at this sort of thing before from the point of view that there are plenty of professionals who could do with this sort of training but never get any opportunity so that it might be easier to get decent organised training as an amateur than as a professional, which is insane! It frighteningly reads in places as a manifesto for keeping the lower eschelons of professional archaeology in their place, i.e. alongside interested amateurs, as the 'great and the good' will hardly suffer as a result. Say what you like about community projects, and I have certain expressed my concerns with some aspects of them, but they have potentially set the bar now for this kind of thing. Sounds great for the handful of people employed through such means, but what about the rest.

Increased public access to the results of archaeology in all senses is definately a good thing, but how it is achieved is a different matter. If commercial archaeological projects are forced by some wording in a PPS5 replacement then will everyone else feel the same obligation? The academic whose project maybe takes 25 years to be published, the local society that depends on one or two individuals making results available before they die, the wealthy private funder on their own land? Why do commercial archaeologists always end up being made to feel like the villains of the piece?
As we say, the clarification and assurance is what is required. What exactly is meant by

Quote:3.1.7. Public participation alongside commercial organisations during and after development can be one of the most treasured opportunities to take part at the cutting edge of discovery. But potentially there are obstacles, such as
  • a small additional project cost that can have a significant impact on the chances of successful tendering, if public participation opportunities are not stipulated in briefs
  • concern that ?amateurs? may not meet professional standards
  • concerns that the use of volunteers may be seen as undercutting paid competitors
  • restrictions (real or imagined) relating to Health and Safety and insurance
  • short-notice and short-duration projects
  • commercial confidentiality issues
and then

Quote:3.1.8. While there will always be projects where public participation is not appropriate, many obstacles can be overcome by
  • historic environment advisors including a requirement for public participation in the brief, where appropriate
  • recognising that ?professionals? are those that subscribe to a set of ethical standards without regard to self-interest, have demonstrated technical competence necessary for their tasks and responsibilities, are committed to developing their skills, and are prepared to be accountable to their peers ? the term does not apply exclusively or indeed universally to those that are paid and all engaged in understanding the past can attain professional standards
  • applying the principles of the IfA policy statement on the use of volunteers and students to ensure potential commercial conflicts of interest are managed
  • undertaking suitable risk assessments and inductions that manage most Health and Safety issues, and consulting with underwriters who can be flexible if given notice and explanation
  • a greater focus on the public benefit outcomes of projects
As REdEarth says, this will affect the fieldworkers... as I suspect that the volunteering will not penetrate project manager and Project Officer Level.. even though... they may have demonstrated technical competence necessary for their tasks and responsibilities, are committed to developing their skills, and are prepared to be accountable to their peers ? the term does not apply exclusively or indeed universally to those that are paid and all engaged in understanding the past can attain professional standards

Just a thought. Does this mean fieldworkers only? or all branches? Amateur Photographers Amateur Surveyors, Amateur Researchers, Amateur Managers ?

By the sound of the quotes posted by Mr Hosty, Southport are trying to build on the Public Engagement section in the Practice Guide (Paragraph 138), which begins:

'Where appropriate and possible, local planning authorities and the developer are advised to consider the benefits of making the investigative works open to and interpreted for the public and to include that as part of the written scheme of investigation…'
D. Vader
Senior Consultant

Vader Maull & Palpatine
Archaeological Consultants

A tremor in the Force. The last time I felt it was in the presence of Tony Robinson.

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