What do you mean, you don’t recognise my qualification? Understanding skills and measuring competence in archaeology

Posted on September 4, 2017


Life has kept me busy for the last couple of months so I haven’t been posting… or even clearing out my queue of posts that I wanted to get out. I will make an effort to get this backlog out. Here is a session from the CIfA conference we filmed.

Session Details:

Kate Geary, CIfA; Raimund Karl, Bangor University and Chair of the EAA Committee on the Teaching and Training of Archaeologists

The ways we teach archaeology around the world are well established, firmly embedded within the academic discipline. The ways we train archaeologists are not and there are some significant variations in approach which hinder the development of archaeology as a global profession. In the UK, tools to define and measure archaeological skills and competence developed over the last 10–15 years are just starting to become embedded, at least within the commercial sector, reflecting an increasing awareness of the need to balance the importance of academic knowledge with accredited, vocational competence. Elsewhere, the teaching of vocational skills may be incorporated within academic awards, either explicitly or implicitly. This session will explore different ways of training archaeologists and consider whether our traditional reliance on academic awards reflects a genuine philosophical difference in approach to the discipline in different countries. It will reflect on the transferability of a range of qualifications and discuss whether globally recognised ‘brands’, such as Chartership, present a solution.

Introduction – a European perspective

https://youtu.be/LjnT1Fet4o0 Raimund Karl, Chair EAA Committee on the Teaching and Training of Archaeologists

In this introduction Raimund Karl sets the scene for the session and offers a European perspective on the issue of recognising skills and measuring competence in archaeology.

Discovering the archaeologists of the world

https://youtu.be/lZD2E8Taunk Kenneth Aitchison, Landward Research Ltd

Archaeology is indeed a global profession, and good data on archaeological employment have been collected in many parts of the world. Discovering the archaeologists of Europe has produced information across the continent, a Discovering the archaeologists of the Americas pilot project is underway, and there are excellent longitudinal datasets for Australia. But having the data doesn’t make things easier – as discussed at WAC-8, Japan knows it is about to face a shortage of senior archaeologists as many reach retirement age, but accepting an influx of foreign archaeologists to fill the gap would be culturally problematic. But without having identified the problem, there would be no way to think up a solution.
This paper will review the shape of global professional archaeology, the value of having labour market intelligence for our profession, the challenges and opportunities it presents, and will explore what a Discovering the archaeologists of the world project could be.

Training of professional archaeologists in the United States: a path forward

https://youtu.be/ZHOQJi9h_ro Christopher Dore and Terry H. Klein, RPA

In the United States, the traditional path to becoming a ‘professional archaeologist’ is through university anthropology programmes. However, many senior cultural heritage managers complain that individuals coming out of these academic programmes do not have the skill sets or knowledge necessary for jobs in the private sector or government. At the same time, public universities in the US are under tremendous financial constraints, and are being asked to demonstrate their relevance in terms of job training and applied research. The Register of Professional Archaeologists (Register), in partnership with the American Cultural Resources Association (ACRA), is planning to embark on a national effort to improve the training of archaeologists. The Register and ACRA are also planning to develop programmes that assist students and young archaeologists in their career paths to becoming a professional archaeologist. In this paper, we will examine current training programmes in the US, and discuss how the Register and ACRA propose to improve and expand these programmes. We will also discuss how these improvements might be accomplished in partnership with organisations outside the United States, such as CIfA.

Chartered Archaeologist: accrediting competence on a global scale?

https://youtu.be/Zilwb1r_f9o Kate Geary, CIfA

Accredited members of CIfA have demonstrated their technical competence to a panel of peers and have undertaken, through signing up to the Code of conduct, to behave ethically in the execution of their work. The way that competence is gained and assessed has changed since the early days of the Institute of Field Archaeologists. Candidates for membership no longer have to demonstrate ‘experience’ as a proxy indicator of competence; the element of ‘time served’ – having to show experience at a certain level for a defined length of time – has also been removed and there are no longer different requirements for candidates with and without formal academic qualifications. The changes reflect a growing confidence around the definition and assessment of skills and competence (as opposed to academic knowledge) in archaeology, underpinned by tools like the National Occupational Standards in Archaeological Practice.
There are still challenges. Measuring ethical competence – ‘professionalism’ – is not an integrated part of the process as yet and, although CIfA has members across the globe, our definitions of technical competence are still founded in UK professional practice. These issues, and many more, are being tackled head-on as part of the process for developing a Chartered Archaeologist grade. This paper will outline the work undertaken so far and explore whether the internationally recognised title of ‘Chartered’ might provide a solution to the problems of acquiring and demonstrating competence across the globe.


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