The Future of Our Profession

Posted on September 7, 2015


The last video session from the CIfA conference:

It is the year 2050 and a group of archaeologists are discussing how to approach the complex archaeological remains which the planned HS5 driver‐less vehicle speedway will demolish in its wake. Who are they? Where do they work? What techniques are they using? And what post‐nominals do they have?

In 2015 the Chartered Institute of Archaeologists will begin discussions about what a Chartered Archaeologist might look like ‐ how would the institute confer that Chartered status, what should we expect archaeologists to be able to demonstrate ‐ at what point in your career should you be able to go for Chartered status.

The 2015 conference is our first as a Chartered Institute and we want to explore some of these trains of thought in an imaginative and creative manner. We will be inviting speakers from across sectors to explore this train of thought and (with some audience interaction) gauge an idea of what you think the future holds….


Towards fortune and glory: Using the tools we’ve got, to build the careers we want
Bill Moffat, Wessex Archaeology

This paper looks at the development of professional practice and career structure using the National Occupational Standards. Archaeologists do not enjoy the same standards of professional training as surveyors, architects and planners or site agents, engineers and plant operators (IfA, 2014). All of these are, or can become, members of chartered institutions with well specified career pathways (CITB, 2014).

In order to capitalise on our own institute’s chartership and to develop as chartered archaeologists we must do the same. The mechanisms exist. The NOS provide a framework which have been used in skills audits (IFA, 2004), matched to job descriptions (IFA, 2004)and used to specify training courses (Cotswold Archaeology, 2014). To date, the focus has been on early career training within the current career model. This paper will show that the NOS can be used strategically, that they provide a model for whole career training and can form the spine of varied, resilient and adaptable structured learning leading to individual chartership, and beyond.
The paper looks at the structures of the RIBA, RICS/CIOB, RTPI, and ICE /IStructE and cross matches them to the career pathways developed by the CITB. Using these models, it shows how the NOS can generate a career matrix for archaeologists using the current entry model and reverse engineers a future archaeological career track providing a vocational entry option.

The paper concludes with an assessment of the effects of the model on competitive advantage and profitability. Personal development is a key element of resilient quality management (ISO, 2012) and encourages self-actualisation (Maslow, 1943), which leads to improved staff turnover. These elements maintain productivity and reduce the costs of goods sold. At a very simple level, a more professionally skilled sector has more self-respect, which commands community respect. And higher fees.


Organising archaeology 
Prospect Archaeology Branch

2014 was as a watershed for the profession, with the Institute for Archaeologists becoming chartered and taking a key role in facilitating increased liaison between the Prospect union and employers organisation FAME on a national level. This resulted in the joint statement in 2014 which committed all three organisations to working together to seek to address the difficult and challenging issues that face the industry ( ).

The joint statement was an important first step, but the future of our profession depends on how it is implemented. There are two possible futures for our profession in the coming years.

One is where archaeological units indulge in cut-throat competition, where smaller units go to the wall, where local government archaeology has all been out-sourced and training is sacrificed, where archaeological talent haemorrhages from the profession leaving the rest over-worked and impoverished.

The other is where archaeological organisations work together more constructively for the good of the profession, archaeologists’ and specialists’ remuneration more closely reflects the knowledge and skills they bring to the job, and where we are held in the same esteem as comparable professionals.

This paper will focus on what we can do collectively to achieve the sort of future our industry deserves.


2050: an archaeological odyssey. A vision of the future of our profession from the New Generation
Natalie Ward & Ben Jervis, CIfA New Generation group

At the launch of the CIfA we were asked to present a short vision of what we thought chartership might mean for the future of the historic environment profession. We presented a vision of a respected, diverse and highly skilled profession operating for the public benefit and within a society which values the historic environment and acknowledges its value. In this contribution we will look in more depth at this vision of the future, particularly to explore how CIfA might use the benefits of chartership to best effect in achieving our, admittedly idealised, vision of the future. We argue that chartership is not an end in itself, but rather provides an opportunity to open new dialogues with other professionals in which we can advocate the social and economic value of the historic environment, to shift the perception of it from being a problem to be solved, to being an opportunity to be embraced. We will also explore how CIfA might best utilise its position to develop an increasingly highly skilled and diverse workforce within the sector, particularly demonstrating progress being made by the New Generation SIG in laying the foundations for the programmes and mechanisms that might facilitate the achievement of this goal.

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