3.2 Entry Level Training

The ultimate objective of entry level training is for the people entering the profession to be able to demonstrate that they have the skills that can identify them as being "archaeologists&#quot; - to the presently defined level of IFA Practitioners:

This category is intended for all archaeologists at an early stage in their careers. Practitioners will normally have gained experience at relatively low levels of responsibility and competence is assessed by means of referees’ reports and a curriculum vitae. The basic entry requirements are an honours degree in archaeology or an equivalent qualification, with at least six months continuous and appropriate experience. Those with intermittent experience, graduates in other subjects and those without formal academic qualifications are eligible, but more than six months’ experience is required
(IFA 2002, 12)

What the IFA considers to be necessary for the profession is the rapid establishment and implementation of accredited and respected entry-level qualifications, defining the skills that are needed to be a professional archaeologist, and then giving people those skills. These skills have now been identified through the Defining Professional Functions and Standards in Archaeology project, and the results of that project will provide the base to work from.

The skills needed to be a professional archaeologist can be delivered via formal postgraduate courses or through in-post training

There are essentially two mechanisms by which these skills can be delivered; by formal postgraduate courses, or through in-post training – what might once have been called ‘apprenticeships’. The expansion in higher education discussed under basic training has also been an important development in the delivery of training at this stage, as Masters courses have proliferated. Carter and Robertson (2002b, 41-2) identified 127 post-graduate degree courses in archaeology and related subjects that were offered by UK universities in 2002, providing specialised and technical skills.

English Heritage has introduced a scheme to support training through postgraduate education, whereby funds are allocated for distribution to students on courses that address areas where there is a recognised need for training. These bursaries are intended to lead to the expansion of professional expertise in areas of potential constraint. Typically, the students receiving the bursaries will need to have demonstrated their commitment to working in archaeology by already having two years work experience. Twenty students received funding via this route in 2001-02, and this has been expanded for the academic year 2002-03 with seventeen courses at ten universities receiving support. The range of courses supported is a useful assessment of where English Heritage (and so, indirectly, the Archaeology Training Forum) consider the shortfalls in UK entry-level training to be.

In-post training was recognised through a Survey of Archaeological Specialists (Aitchison 2000) as the preferred mechanism through which specialists would seek to transmit their skills. But scope now exists for combining in-post training with post-graduate education, through Graduate and Post-Graduate Apprenticeships, part of the Modern Apprenticeships programme introduced by the UK government in the late 1990s.

In order for the Modern Apprenticeships scheme to be used as a delivery vehicle, national occupational standards have to be set, and ideally National (or Scottish) Vocational Qualifications (N/SVQs) will need to be established and accessible. Discussion of N/SVQs has raised concerns in some quarters – with the profession’s almost universal experience of higher education, some might fear that apprenticeships and vocational qualifications might be in some way below the standards that archaeologists require - NVQs in Environmental Conservation (Archaeology) and Environmental Conservation (Field Archaeology) were accredited in 1994 (COSQUEC 1994) but failed to attract sufficient take-up to become sustainable qualifications and were removed from the national framework by QCA in 1998.

This will not be the case - while Foundation and Advance Modern Apprenticeships are aimed at school leavers, Graduate and Post-Graduate Apprenticeships combine study towards graduate or post-graduate degrees with focussed and relevant work experience, using the detailed standards required by the N/SVQs as yardsticks of achievement. A pilot study has launched Graduate and Post-Graduate Apprenticeships in the fields of museum studies and conservation (Armitage 2001), which will be closely examined by the archaeological profession - and once the national occupational standards in archaeology are formally adopted, the door will be open for the establishment of archaeologically-specific apprenticeship programmes.

Once archaeologists have the skills they need to launch their careers, they will then need to continue to maintain and update those skills, through progressive training, using the mechanism of Continuing Professional Development.


Last updated: Tue Sep 10 2002

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