Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
EDITORIAL - Antiquity. the state of the next generation - Martin Carver
#1
Thanks to Welsh Andy for this

Martin Carver shooting from the hip. I like to think that when he finished the bit about people gaining field experience he snapped his fingers at the screen in an extremely sassy manner. Smile

http://antiquity.ac.uk/Ant/086/0613/ant0860613.pdf
Reply
#2
Liking the bit about voluntary experience. Of course, commercial archaeology doesn't need to provide this, as there's already an over-supply of experienced archaeologists to fill the available posts. And it remains to be seen when/whether commercial archaeology would recognise volunteer experience as being valid on a CV, as most job adverts specify commerical experience.

So from the point of view of the new starter, commercial archaeology needs to change. From the point of view of commercial archaeology, it doesn't. So the bigger question is - how can we give commercial archaeology the incentive to change? It is, by definition, a commercial enterprise. Ultimately, any new approach will have to feed its financial bottom line. How do we make training beginners and using volunteers, a commercially-attractive proposition? There is a general "commercial" theme here, I think. No profit-making company will do anything unless it brings them direct financial benefit.

If (big 'if' in some circles I'm guessing) you can get anyone to agree with Martin's contention that volunteers don't hurt the industry, a good start would be to outlaw the type of contract which specifies that only paid professional archaeologists must work on a client's site. I've not seen that many contracts, but this seems to be standard.

And I'd take issue with the contention that a PhD is intended as an apprenticeship for fieldwork; for some people with the funding or opportunity, it's the only means of staying involved in archaeology. Without the commercial experience specified in most job ads (and being in this position myself), it's more academia or the tills at Tesco (usually the latter). I've no illusion that studying past undergrad level is making me a more attractive employment proposition.
Reply
#3
As a client I would need a strong incentive to allow untrained volunteers or staff on a project I was paying for. I would not assume they were cheaper but would worry they would cost me more in the long run. If however it was built into the project design that there would be a volunteer or staff training element and that this was funded by external sources I could tap into then perhaps as a client I would consider it. At the moment there is no incentive for the client or the commercial unit they employ to invest in training or public facing archaeology.
Reply
#4
The question of volunteers in archaeology is a difficult one because as with any profession and I worry that the widespread use of volunteers to staff sites would create almost an intern system for entry level jobs in archaeology. It can become elitist as a system as only those with alternative methods of supporting themselves will be able to hang around for the required period.

The starting wages are low enough, especially with the levels of student debt most graduates will have, without now expecting people to work for free.

I find it incredible that, given the time frames that we deal with in archaeology, we are so incapable of thinking long term as a profession. We are neglecting those entering the industry because we can - there is no incentive to train as there are plenty of archaeologists who have already been trained. So how do you compete - you devalue your labour. Working for free now means you cannot be undercut but you are in a situation which cannot be sustained, when do you ask for a wage and then what is that wage? And what now makes you more attractive to employ than the next enthusiastic volunteer who is not asking for money? Do you risk further debt hanging on just incase a paid position comes up?

Why is there so much focus within the heritage sector on community archaeology and teaching excavation skills to people who with the best will in the world will never see archaeology as more than a hobby? Would it not be more beneficial to use at least some of this money to train field archaeologists? And as much as i think they do great work the CBA grants which aim at training community archaeologists and have done for a number of years but realistically how many do we need! Surely we need to sit down as a profession and have a grown up conversation about how we train our next generation of field staff with the skills we need them to have. Go back to basics - field skills have to be taught through experience so why are we so reluctant to train?

Staff in archaeology have also had to put up with short term contracts and short term thinking with most training being ad hoc but we need to think ahead. What is the future for new archaeologists? When there are more people wanting to do a job than jobs available do we exploit this - we are a commercial enterprise in the main so when do we change - and when will it be too late?
Reply
#5
I think he's getting a bit confused between 'trainee' and 'volunteer'. Trainee in commercial archaeology terms should be a valuable position, a means of getting useful experience for a future professional, although ideally in a paid position, although the undercutting nature of most tenders means it is probably quite likely to lead to exploitation. 'Volunteer' could mean almost anything by comparison - in my experience mostly, as Carver says, pensioners, hobbists etc, who aren't going to be looking at the BAJR jobs page any time soon for a new assistant contract. Fair enough that they want to be involved but why not on projects aimed directly at the community perhaps carrying out all that important research in areas that might not be touched by development, rather than on a building site where I would personally see even an endless supply of free labour as a liability if its ability was uncertain and its reliability unknown. It's not a question of stealing labour rather devaluing the already under valued skills of profession archaeologists (apparently especially the 35s who are seemingly deemed as worthless by some of their 'colleagues' - see other thread).
Reply
#6
Completely agree - archaeology is a real profession and field skills are the core of everything. They have to be learnt through experience and we need a commitment to train - and this should be paid.
Reply
#7
i would say that martin has it down pat. volunteers are not outlawed on commercial sites and there is often room for people to gain experience if project managers can be bothered to organise it. the main problem is that sites are excavated miles away from base and the winning tender has no knowledge of local interest and even less in providing opportunity. its about time the nppf was properly exlpoited by planning archaeologists - it would also generate new income streams
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers
Reply
#8
P Prentice Wrote:i would say that martin has it down pat. volunteers are not outlawed on commercial sites and there is often room for people to gain experience if project managers can be bothered to organise it. the main problem is that sites are excavated miles away from base and the winning tender has no knowledge of local interest and even less in providing opportunity. its about time the nppf was properly exlpoited by planning archaeologists - it would also generate new income streams


That's fine, but my point was that there should perhaps be a difference between volunteers on a community project ('volunteers' doing something valuable in the community) and volunteers on commercial projects ('trainees' learning the skills of the 'profession'), and even volunteers on a research site/university training dig ('volunteers' learning skills useful to their study/research or for future employment). Lumping them all together and acting as if they are the same is a hindrance and potentially damaging.
Reply
#9
I'm surprised by Martin's desire to turn the clock back 30 years to "the good old days" before PPG16, when a handful of properly employed archaeologists (lecturers and museum staff in the main) were able to exploit eager Uni students by offering hard graft on below-minimum "subsistence" wages, and even secured the services of Deathwatch vollies who actually PAID to be abused in the trowelling line! Sites were often under little real threat, timescales were multi-season, and EH's predecessor DoE had an enormous budget by comparison to today. And since there were no legal Planning obligations to get in the way it was OK to have variable-quality data from a collectivist approach.

However, if we want to deliver quality products to time and budget in a modern world dominated by Planning requirements and strict H&S rules, we need more control than the old "circuit" ever offered. And the supervisory staff needed to train and shepheard volunteers properly costs money - can you convince the commercial client to pay extra for it? If not, why should the County Archaeologist agree to let the site be excavated by untrained vollies? Would you hire a contractor who rounded up stray untrained folk to install your plumbing? I remember once being told that the role of training in the PPG era was for the universities...

We do indeed need a proper system of training (and assessing!) new entrants to the paid profession (as well as progression for the well-established), but with the exception of specifically "community" projects outside the PPG/NPPF world I cannot see how the old-school hoards of local Rescue volunteers can fit in today.

Now I'm not saying archaeology should be a cut-throat commercial operation with room only for the pros - merely that archaeology in the UK has already spent the past two decades setting itself up that way and the predictable result is no room for training or volunteering. And ultimately the system is paid for by those who just want the obstruction removed, so there is no financial driver for improvement.
Reply
#10
Quote:Now I'm not saying archaeology should be a cut-throat commercial operation with room only for the pros - merely that archaeology in the UK has already spent the past two decades setting itself up that way and the predictable result is no room for training or volunteering. And ultimately the system is paid for by those who just want the obstruction removed, so there is no financial driver for improvement.

And that is the sorry place we are now. as there is no place for 'mass' training. prior to joining... thus the chicken and egg. and then there is no 'time' to really learn on the job - to be honest... (exceptions occur - but they are exceptions) when was the last time you were taught by a long time photographer or surveyor or soil scientist - while excavating a site? So you must pay to learn. which is great... you have your degree, that you now discover ain't worth spit. and you now have to pay to learn? Volunteering on most commercial sites will not get you training, just a sore knee.

Mixing and matching could be a way forward, but at the end of teh day... the palce where we (and I mean my generation) learned, is no longer supported. the societies and volunteer digs - due in part to the aging process and part due to the edging into Archaeology can only be done by professionals movement. After all... if a team of kids and vollys can do a dig. why should developers pay us?

Pre PPG was actually quite good. as it was always digging archaeology - rather than the 239th empty eval trench. that said it was poor, and when teh plug was pulled... that was it. no comeback apart from public pressure ( which in itself creaed PPG - though perhaps not exactly how we thought it would work!)

Back to training.... systems... process and assesment . but... keep it simple... keep it ongoing and allow flexibility.
Reply


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  New Generation Special Interest Group BAJR 19 6,889 6th August 2013, 01:14 PM
Last Post: P Prentice
  Archaeology... are we lackeys of the capitalist state? BAJR 19 5,204 15th April 2013, 06:19 PM
Last Post: Dinosaur
  Wanted-Archaeologists to inspire the next generation! troll 10 4,430 11th October 2012, 10:11 PM
Last Post: troll
  Latest news on the state of the market for archaeological services BAJR 2 1,609 16th January 2012, 06:46 PM
Last Post: monty
  Current Archaeology editorial BAJR 26 6,574 11th November 2011, 06:43 PM
Last Post: Kel
  Utah fires its state archaeologists BAJR 1 1,049 25th June 2011, 09:00 PM
Last Post: BAJR
  Antiquity Editorial - Full Text BAJR 20 5,903 9th December 2010, 12:46 PM
Last Post: GnomeKing
  NSCC State of Trade Survey Quarter 3 BAJR Host 1 795 22nd September 2009, 04:31 PM
Last Post: BAJR Host
  Illicit Antiquity traffic on internet BAJR Host 2 1,813 12th July 2007, 02:08 PM
Last Post: gonetopot
  Kition a city state removed troll 9 3,324 26th June 2007, 04:16 PM
Last Post: Cautionary Tale

Forum Jump:


Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)