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Radio 4 item on lack of archaeologists
Did anyone else hear a short piece on the Radio 4 news from a couple of days ago? Something about a lack of professional archaeologists and impending skills gap possibly based on a comment from the CBA? I was surprised it hasn't been mentioned on this forum anywhere, unless I have missed it, as I thought it might be pertinent.
Seem to have commented on the yawning skills gap gradually opening up in the digging end of the workforce a few times on here over the last couple of years......good news that the CBA have finally noticed
I didn't hear the piece on the radio, but it seems remarkably out of touch. I know some great archaeologists skilled in all the right areas who are sitting around doing not a lot right now. Seems to me it isn't so much a skills shortage, but a jobs crisis we are going through. Unless of course the programme was suggesting that they can't get the appropriate skills at a cheap enough price. We could perhaps respond by starting a round robin letter signed by unemployed skilled archaeologists who would love to take up jobs right now....
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
Saturday morning there was a BBC news segment on the subject. Can see it here:
A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.
It does seem to be giving the message -

However, I do worry that fewer archaeologists = fewer people to work with local groups = fewer archaeologists and so the end result is we become a hobby. not a profession.

The skills gap has been a bout for years now, and it is also due to undercutting, lack of training and cheap labour... ie you can pay a ten year digger the same as a 6 month newbie. so why would the ten month digger stay? and you will alsways have the 6 month digger to call on... after all.... profits are slim...

Hmmmmm we don't rely on volunteers we enjoy their involvement to enhance archaeology - there is perhaps a confusion between commercial archaeology and research archaeology. I work with perhaps 200 + volunteers a year - doing fun, research archaeology well... only done well because of professional archaeologists who know what they are doing, and can advise and train. and write the reports etc... I was recently informed by one funding group that they would not be able to pay for my supervision.. --- sorry but this is my job! --- they would however pay for specialists to look at finds etc... oh... the insult! A field archaeologist is obviously not a specialist then.

Lots to discuss here. perhaps some navel gazing, but perhaps some constructive self awareness will be good.

We need the public support and we have to open up... but how?
I think the real problem is that the general public (and I include the media) have absolutely no idea how archaeology in the UK works. Even the amateurs have little if any knowledge of commercial archaeology. This leads to the misconception that most archaeology that goes on is research and is done for the sake of the archaeologists not as a legal requirement necessary to protect our heritage.
Commercial archaeology is under the control of the developers and these are the people we need to educate to get them to understand the added value that archaeology could bring (bring them round to seeing it as good publicity rather than temporal contamination removal).
add this to the mix.

Where it seems that even Mary Beard does not quite understand the nuance of commercial development archaeology

Quote:In some senses, the professionalisation has been a very good thing (for a start it has enabled archaeologists to react quickly to building works etc, and to get in there with 5 days to spare and look at what was about to be destroyed). In another sense it has pushed the amateur to the margins. It is no coincidence that the rise of metal deteting has gone hand in hand with the rise of the professionalisation of the discipline. As there have been "no vacancies" for amateur diggers, those who would have been filling the Sunday cohorts of excavators have taken to private enterprise and to the glamour of the detector.
I am not usually an advocate of the Big Society, but maybe getting the "amateurs" back on board will help, rather than hinder, archaeology.

Rather than point and sigh, I would once again reiterate what has been said above. Why do people not understand? and I would seriously decry teh comment about no vacancies for amateur diggers. there is plenty, but professionals are less likely to spend weekend working with a society after spending a week in an ole --- though to be fair, community archaeology fills taht gap AND those commercials that have come on some of my weekend digs have a great laugh, away from pressures and deadlines.

PErhaps we do have to explain ourselves in a clear way, rather than grumble that no one understands us like a sulky teenager?
Journos are idiots............}Smile
hmm maybe a bit harsh...............Some journos are foolish headline-grabbing drones who have little understanding of anything and are only interested in the story they want to tell.......(vent, rant, grrrr, shakes fist at the sky.)

Some have claimed that 'gas engineers' found the site that we were desperately trying to stop the same engineers kicking us off the site and destroying it, after we had warned them they hadn't left enough time between stripping and trenching for those unexpected settlements that would turn up, others tried to claim I worked for some utilities company, one wrote that our Iron Age/RB trackway was lined up with York minster, 'a common Roman practice'!!??..........thought he wasn't listening when I tried to carefully explain that the track seemed to be heading for the center of York because you could see the top of the minster on the horizon, which is round about the same spot as Roman York. The 'common practice' was a reference to the graves being located outside of the edge of the settlement. luckily the newspaper they sent it to got in contact with us to clarify before print!

Ooo and don't get me started on how the press reports on climatological science!!
Ah fair points indeed. Perhaps even when we do explain the hand ain't listening!

Just as well they did not ask about how it tied into cannibalism as well
Does no one else take the, perhaps cynical and paranoid, view that I do about this?

Essentially the government saying 'look, you've had a good run but now you're too much of a financial burden to economic growth so most of you will have to sod off. It's OK though, we've put all this money into HLF so there will be an army of trained volunteers to take up the slack'. Note the words of the government chap, not 'it's terrible that all these skilled professions, many graduates, are losing their jobs', rather 'well there are plenty of volunteers'. It's the Fens all over again, but by stealth! I know what I partly blame, and it isn't the media's misconceptions about how it all works, it's the very HLF sponsored community projects that we all love, sorry. I'm sure I've said it before but it has for some time seemed easier for volunteers on community projects to get training in fieldwork skills than for employed professionals or undergraduates (or equivalent), which just isn't right. Is it any wonder this situation is now arising?

Who is Mary Beard by the way?

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