A key publication in the definition of the IFA's agenda for training was Collis and Hinton 1998. This made clear the importance of the issue and the role of the professional association in raising standards through training. It identified that there was limited scope for moving up a career ladder in archaeology, that levels of pay were poor, and that there was no general definition in job descriptions of the levels of skills required to undertake archaeological tasks.
This article was the first to make clear that it had to be accepted that, while there were vital skills that were not taught outside the university framework, specifically theoretical approaches to understanding life in the past, universities did not provide vocational training. As no single body oversaw archaeological training, this meant that no well-defined route to obtaining needed skills had been established.
The ways forward that Collis and Hinton outlined established that links had to be established between training, skills, professional institute membership grade and career development.
A training strategy was proposed that was based upon the potential needs of archaeologists at three key stages in their careers – basic training, entry level and progressive training – and this model has remained the basis for all subsequent discussion and work.
The required training at every stage, and the means to deliver and record that training, is through the mechanism of continuing professional development.
Following on from this, Bishop et al. 1999 set out the Institute's vision for archaeological training and employment. This document established an agenda for 'developing a learning environment in which archaeologists will be provided with the necessary skills to carry out their responsibilities' (Bishop et al. 1999, 14).
The IFA has promoted an approach to training in archaeology that tackles these problems and aims to enable archaeologists to practise with the skills, knowledge and experience appropriate for the roles and levels of responsibility they hold or aspire to
This again made it clear that a number of factors were militating against the successful provision of training in archaeology: an underdeveloped professional career structure, a lack of formal training, inadequate documentation of the skills required to practice in a given role, insufficient value being placed on training and insufficient resources being afforded to it.
Subsequently, the IFA has promoted an approach to training in archaeology that tackles these problems and aims to enable archaeologists to practise with the skills, knowledge and experience appropriate for the roles and levels of responsibility they hold or aspire to, to demonstrate a record of these and to obtain appropriate recognition for what they know and what they can do, in terms of both employment and grade within the professional body.
The major initiative here has been the development of occupational standards for archaeological practice. The standards will have a wide range of applications, but reward for responsibility has been identified by the consultants that undertook the project as one of the motive forces behind it.
With few consistent external benchmarks it is difficult to argue for rates of pay that realistically reflect responsibilities and expertise – a constant problem for IFA. The Roles and Skills Project [Defining Professional Functions and Standards in Archaeology] is not a theoretical exercise in occupational standards. Instead, it offers a framework with which the profession can tackle the perennial issues of pay, training and career structure.
(Robertson and Carter 2002, 14)
In order to reach that desired goal of more appropriate levels of remuneration, the archaeological profession will first have to be able to demonstrate that its members have the levels of skills that merit it. The occupational standards will be the yardstick against which these skills can be measured, and the means to identify where skills need to be gained or maintained.
Last updated: Tue Sep 10 2002
© Author(s). Content published prior to 2013 is not covered by CC-BY licence and requests for reproduction should usually go to the copyright holder (in most cases, the author(s)). For citation / fair-dealing purposes, please attribute the author(s), the title of the work, the Internet Archaeology journal and the relevant URL/DOI.