A proposed scheme for Britain

The IFA, in re-defining its various levels of membership, is in fact moving away from these pre-defined courses with assumed content. Thus, some of us might suggest abandoning the 'relevant degree' as something usually required for membership, and likewise the concept of its 'Areas of Competence'. Instead we should be exploring what Jonathan Parkhouse has called a 'Thesaurus' of skills and knowledge (see Parkhouse 2002 and the IFA's Applicant's Handbook for the present situation), defining 'occupational standards', which will include archaeological skills, but also many others of relevance to us in our jobs (often referred to as 'transferable skills') - IT, statistics, languages, management, legal knowledge, health and safety, presentation, etc. Many of these we may indeed pick up during our formal training at universities, but throughout our lives we will continue acquiring more, and many of them in less formal circumstances, and so they come under what we now refer to as 'Continuing Professional Development' (CPD). We also need to acquire these skills at different levels, with a hierarchy of progression.

At first glance what I will be proposing may seem a very bureaucratic method, which will generate a lot of paper. At one level this is true, but I expect that once the initial Thesaurus is set up, it can be used in a wide range of contexts for various very useful purposes, and the actual administration of it will be fairly simply (basically using tick lists of competences). There are two points to be made. The first is that we can vary the level of detail in the definition of the various skills as required by 'occupational standards' - some may need to be very specific, others fairly general; what is important is that the categories should be ones that we will find useful and will use, not ones that are made up simply to make lists. The second is that we do not want detailed and long-winded definitions of the different levels, we only need general indicators. The Thesaurus is also extremely flexible in that new skills can be added to the list with the minimum of effort, and others allowed to drop off as they become out-dated (e.g. when an IT package is superseded by something better).

Firstly I have suggested it is useful if we think in terms of five levels (as laid out in the IFA'S CPD package):

  1. Aware of the significance or principles ('acquaintance').
  2. Has practised or been examined in the subject ('knowledge').
  3. Is competent to carry it out ('skill').
  4. Competent to direct, supervise or teach others ('expertise').
  5. Has recognised national or international expertise ('mastery').

We then need to define the skill or knowledge area, and the level of detail which is useful. This will be best defined by the people working in each area, as they will know what level of knowledge is required. However, I will give some examples of how I am thinking:

Competence area: Geophysics

Competence area: British Prehistory

Competence Area: Languages


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Last updated: Tue Jul 2 2002