Landward Research publishes new report into archaeological sector market demand

CIfA welcomes the publication of a new report by Landward Research into the current and future demand for archaeological work in the UK. The report, entitled 'Have we Reached Peak Archaeologists?' examines the infrastructure ‘pipeline’ and the housing market and questions the assessment that there will be a growing demand for archaeologists over the next decade due to high infrastructure spending.

The report provides a valuable insight into the methodology for previous research which sparked fears of a huge shortage or archaeologists, which was commissioned by Historic England and published in 2016. The new Landward report also reminds us that there are inherent difficulties in predicting future workforce requirements in the sector, and highlights concerns within the housing and construction sectors about the potential for a downturn in the coming years. The Institute is mindful of previous cycles of boom and bust in construction and housebuilding and the effect that these have had on archaeology, and conscious of calls for caution within those sectors in the light of present government policies which are highlighted in the Landward report.

CIfA works with partners through a number of fora to help support the sector’s training and skills needs, and in recent years, has faced challenges in particular regions, as a result of large infrastructure projects. CIfA is, however, mindful that this evidence masks a greater variability in the market across the UK, and that widespread patterns of long term demand cannot be predicted confidently.

In this context, CIfA has been advocating for change in the way the sector recruits and trains its workforce, and has been making this case for some time. Regardless of the level of demand, this change is essential in order to provide the skills the sector needs and also to encourage greater diversity amongst those seeking a career in historic environment practice.

CIfA is working with employers and educators on the development of flexible career entry routes designed to provide vocational skills and underpinning academic knowledge both of which are vital for a skilled, professional workforce.

CIfA also welcomes the increased recognition by employers of their role in training and skills development and encourages Registered Organisations to have their training provision formally recognised by CIfA, ensuring that training is aligned to professional standards and can lead to professional accreditation.

Professional accreditation leads to greater recognition of archaeologists’ skills, parity with fellow professionals and increased credibility with clients and the public. Becoming a chartered profession is the ultimate recognition of the high level of technical and ethical competence required of an archaeologist in the 21st century – in order to do this we need access to clearly defined career pathways supported by appropriate training and professional development opportunities.

CIfA takes the findings of this report extremely seriously and shares the view that the sector must plan for all eventualities and anticipate the potential for parts of the market to contract as well as grow. The Institute will be working with partners across the sector to help employers plan for these eventualities.

Information on the Institute’s skills programmes can be found here.
The Landward report can be downloaded here.

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