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General Rant!
Hi all,

Just felt the need to have a very basic rant about the state of archaeology. I have worked in the commercial sector for a couple of years now (not long admittedly) and I am beginning to despair. The only reason that I am able to write this is due to once again being unemployed. Is there any solution to this problem in the long term or is archaeology doomed to fail??? People should be warned about this before deciding to go to University and studying the subject if they want a future! One of my main bug-bares is the last in-first out policy of pretty much every unit I have worked for. It sucks and makes no sense on a business level, to get rid of hard working, dedicated members of staff because they have been there the shortest amount of time, while others that have been there longer just swan about doing naff all and keeping their jobs! I know everybody out there has heard all this so many times before. Its just as I sit at my desk, glued to BAJR, waiting for that job to crop up, I might be going slightly insane :p

So if anybody out there would like to cheer me up then please feel free Big Grin

When will the tide turn and we can all get on with our jobs and earn some money (albeit a pittance)?

Cheers all.
not highbrow enough for you eh?

Well just thought it might open the never ending debate up again but it seems it is not to b.Rolleyes
I can't offer any comfort, as the situation has been largely the same since I left University, well over 10 years ago now, and I'm sure other people on here can provide comments to the effect that it's been the same for considerably longer. You're unfortunate in that you're starting out at a particularly bad time, though, when there's significantly less development-related work around. When I started, there was an abundance of work available on the circuit, so at least if you left one site under the last-in-first-out policy, you'd be able to pick up something else (albeit you needed to be able and willing to move to the other end of the country at short notice). Obviously, this type of lifestyle wasn't for everyone, so there was a general attrition of people leaving after a couple of years to get more secure or better paid jobs, by which time those who wanted to continue were better-placed to get kept on somewhere on a more permanent basis.

I know it'll be no comfort to you, but I can remember sitting in a site hut some time around '98, complaining that the university hadn't warned me about the poor pay and job prospects for archaeology graduates who actually wanted to work in archaeology, but in a sense, that's not really their job. Their role is to provide education for people who want to study archaeology, and it's for the students to decide what they want to do with this education - out of my graduating year of about 50, I think there's maybe 5 of us who still work in archaeology. I know that when I announced I was going to study archaeology, my parents asked lots of questions about what sort of job this would get me and how much I could expect to earn, but I was so determined that I didn't really listen. In retrospect, they were pretty sensible questions, and I'd certainly advise anyone thinking of studying archaeology to consider them before committing to spending a large sum of money on fees.

Sorry, I know this isn't particularly encouraging, but the situation at the moment is as bad as I've seen in terms of availability of work. The only thing I could suggest is to make sure you're able to start on a site at the drop of a hat, even if the only job you're offered is at the other end of the country. Hopefully, things will pick up a bit in the future.
You know Marcus. He once got lost in his own museum
Thank you Mr Brody Sir Big Grin You are right on every count of course. My last couple of units have meant traveling around 150 mile a day so well used to that kind of thing. I just wonder when government and councils will understand that our job matters!
tobytjek1 Wrote:Thank you Mr Brody Sir Big Grin You are right on every count of course. My last couple of units have meant traveling around 150 mile a day so well used to that kind of thing. I just wonder when government and councils will understand that our job matters!

150 miles a day? Do you mean that you have travelled this far from a work base near your home or do you mean that you have travelled this far to your work base? If the latter i commend you for your commitment. If the former, you were working for a c**t
tobytjek1 Wrote:I just wonder when government and councils will understand that our job matters!

For an answer to that, see the thread about Fenland District Council, and those relating to the closure or reduction of Council archaeology services!
You know Marcus. He once got lost in his own museum
Marcus, I graduated in 1989 and got my first digging job in 1990 - the year of PPG16. If you want to dig and dig only you are stuffed. All the diggers that have been in a long time at the big units will stay there until they fall off the perch or culled. If you have no ties LIFO is the life and you have to live out of a bag. Then you get to old and its change job, find a partner with a proper job, become a desk jockey doing dull PM work or specialise in something you are interested in and try to make yourself indespensible. Capitalism rules and archaeology is in a market and the workers are right royally f****d as usual and blamed for being f****d. It is going to take many years, if at all (but lets remain positive), before job security in the field is a reality. The days of council run archaeology with associated benefits (a good thing or not) are long gone and will never return. How to change things is for young diggers with more intelligence than me to sort out. For those of us that have been through it and come out the other side - you have our full support.
Comarch, I think your reply may have been meant for tobytjek1 rather than me. I've done the no life, no ties, live-out-of-a-bag bit, and am now at the dull desk-jockey stage of what could laughably be called my 'career'! My comment to tobytjek highlighting cuts to council services was a specific answer to his/her question about when the government / councils will understand that archaeology matters, i.e, they obviously won't, as if they did, they wouldn't be cutting these things. But I second your support - as I said above, the situation at the moment for fieldwork is as bad as I can remember it ever being.
You know Marcus. He once got lost in his own museum
At the cost of sounding like a right old git, I think we have seen the best of it. Not just because of the appalling situation of fieldwork at the moment, but also the degrading of individual skills through units becoming huge monoliths with specialists taking on photography, surveying, planning (nearly all GPS driven) and top heavy managment all trying hard to justify their existance. Did you go into archaeology thinking that "I want to sit at a desk and work out budgets and write 'dry as dust' assessments for clients" when the equivalent grade of management in any other industry pays two or three times as much for similar work? I would guess not. I would say that you wanted to access your heritage, make it accessable to others, to take part in unique, individual research and to touch the past. Or am I being an old romantic? As to the government - the only way they will take any notice of anything is when it is politically expiedient to do so and they have to do something as a sop to the electorate. That will only happen if the public support a service they see as relevant to them - libraries, the NHS, schools, free access to museums etc. Archaeology needs to speak with one voice with public support, but, as the DF has found, even getting diggers to unite as a body has been, so far, fruitless. See past threads ad nauseum.
Thought this was going to be a discussion about Ulysses S Grant but mis-speltBig Grin

Sadly, as someone else who make a right mess of my personal risk assessment when I decided to leave a proper job and try and come back to my favouritest thing in the world, commercial archaeology has, in my humble opinion, cut it's own throat and now planning regulations PERHAPS bourne out of bitter experience from clients dealing with a lack of business acumen in the archeaological units have sensed a time for "pay back".

Universities have been aware of this for perhaps they should have warned students but them they are threatening their own jobs aren't they? And then they would have no MA students to churn out...

AS our dear friend from the Fens would have it; dig a hole and look at that; sod the wider context.
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!

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