Research into client demand for accredited heritage practitioners

A working group, led by CIfA, of the English Historic Environment Forum has undertaken research
into clients’ attitude towards accredited heritage experts (eg CIfA-Registered organisations, or MCIfA, ACIfA or PCIfA archaeologists).

The work was intended to establish how to stimulate informed demand for essential skills, recognising that creating demand may be an effective means of ensuring supply. The research was conducted by Loud Marketing, led by Stephen O’Reilly, contracted through CIfA, and was funded by
Historic England. It involved interviews with 38 respondents from professional, trade and craft bodies representing the supply side of the heritage skills landscape, and focus groups and depth interviews with 41 respondents representing different types of clients, including private homeowners.

The research concluded that clients appreciate the heritage assets in their care, and their responsibilities to them. The client landscape is complex: there is an appetite for independent and unbiased advice, but a lack of informed demand. Language does not help: many clients are confused and find little meaning in many heritage sector terms and phrases (including heritage sector and accreditation). Accreditation in some form is seen as a good thing, but clients are unaware of many schemes and are confused by others. They tend to find specialist suppliers based on previous contracts or by asking trusted contacts for a recommendation; searching websites is the next stage and the first stage where a recommendation is unavailable. The major factors affecting choice of supplier are previous work, a good personal connection, price, proximity and availability. Some clients then checking references, recommendations, qualifications, memberships and accreditations, but the level of due diligence varies by client and project.

In the report, Loud Marketing makes some recommendations to CDTG and HEF, relating to
• pan-sectoral collaboration to drive awareness and understanding amongst clients.
• education about the benefits of using specialist suppliers
• unbiased advice on sourcing suitably competent heritage practitioners

For the full report click here

EDIT 10/3/17: A consultation has now been launched to collect the views of practitioners on the proposed recommendations of the report. CIfA members are strongly encouraged to respond to help guide outcomes from this research.

The survey questionnaire can be downloaded here.

Deadlines for submissions is 14 April and responses should be sent to Rebecca.garrett [at] historicengland.org.uk.

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