Twenty years of training and professional development: lots of progress but plenty more to do

On Monday, we celebrated the 21st birthday of the Archaeology Training Forum (ATF It was an opportunity to reflect on progress in the fields of learning, training and professional development but also to set out priorities to guide the ATF’s work for the next 21 years. 2019 also marks 20 years since the launch of the Institute of Field Archaeologists’ (now CIfA!) vision for professional training in archaeology. Closely aligned to the work of the ATF, that vision identified the need to define roles and the skills needed to undertake them, design training and develop qualifications to provide and demonstrate those skills and align our accreditation structures to enable them to be recognised and valued within and outside the sector.

The issues that CIfA and ATF were trying to address will still be familiar to us today: ‘an underdeveloped career structure, lack of formal practical training, inadequate documentation of the skills required to practice in a given role, insufficient value placed on training and insufficient resources afforded to it’ (reported by Bishop, Collis & Hinton in TA 35, Summer 1999). But before we get too despondent, it’s worth highlighting the progress that has been made since 1999 which has included some key achievements with the development of National Occupational Standards, National Vocational Qualifications and apprenticeship standards, against the backdrop of major fluctuations in the demand for archaeological skills and wholesale changes to the wider education and skills landscape.

The Professional Development team at CIfA has never been busier; supporting the delivery of Trailblazer Apprenticeships in England and the development of Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland, working with employers, academic departments and training providers to align academic and vocational opportunities and supporting our members to access high quality learning and CPD opportunities. So we paused, celebrated, and now we get back to work.