Colleagues, clients, funding bodies and course providers increasingly rely on archaeologists to demonstrate that they have agreed standards for archaeological practice. Among employers, UK, Scottish and Welsh governments and in the European Union there is a growing requirement for professions to have recognised standards.
We want to move away from the situation where anyone can practise as, and call themselves, an archaeologist. To safeguard the historic environment and promote our discipline, we need to demonstrate competence - as is done in many other occupations. For the individual practitioner (whether paid or unpaid), having recognised standards will make it easier to identify training needs and ways to improve his or her skills.
On behalf of the Archaeology Training Forum, IfA worked with Cultural Heritage National Training Organisation (CHNTO) to map a career structure for archaeology. This project has involved the establishment of National Occupational Standards (NOS) for Archaeological Practice, and marked a change of attitude towards education and vocational training in archaeology. By establishing NOS, IfA was able to develop a Qualification in Archaeological Practice which is awarded by Education Development International, and a Workplace Learning Programme with bursaries for work-based learning that have been funded by English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The development of NOS also helps individuals within the sector to direct their own learning through the process of Continuing Professional Development (CPD), which is compulsory for continued corporate membership of the Institute.