What do we know about the profile of the heritage workforce?

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It is important for our sector to have up to date labour market intelligence, to help with forecasting and planning future investment, safeguarding heritage for the future. And for advocacy reasons, to champion the contribution the heritage industry makes to our local and national economies, and to attract new and diverse talent. Yet, this is not straightforward work.

The heritage sector, spanning organisations as varied as museums and national parks, includes a wide range of job roles and the workforce needs countless skill sets, both general and specialist. There are thousands of employers and a wide range of professional and trade bodies with an interest in sustaining a qualified workforce across the UK; a measure of this complexity is that there are at least six employer-led Sector Skills Councils representing the interests of the heritage sector.

Between them, heritage organisations have produced a range of research that points to skills shortages in the heritage workforce and highlights issues that need to be addressed to ensure heritage organisations are resilient and represent the communities they serve. In this post, we bring some of this work together in one place and ask you to contribute.

As a starting point, in 2012 we published a document to help Skills for the Future applicants, which gathered a sample of research and reports published across the heritage sector over the preceding five years. This document is attached.

Since then further useful research has been commissioned jointly by English Heritage and Creative and Cultural Skills to produce this Historic Environment and Cultural Heritage Skills Survey (2013) showing the sector faces ongoing recruitment issues:

Heritage Counts 2013 responded to the findings of a Heritage Environment Forum on skills which agreed there was a shortage of labour market intelligence in the sector. It includes a range of new research, as well as collating existing data for the built environment sector:

The Institute of Conservation report Conservation Labour Market Intelligence (2013) gives useful up-to-date data on the segment of our workforce focussed on object conservation:

How might we use and respond to this research?

Are you aware of further work that could be shared with colleagues here? Do we have any gaps in our knowledge about the workforce?

If you have successfully used this kind of evidence to influence stakeholders, make a case for training interventions or help shape the strategic direction of your organisation it would be good to hear from you.

View Nick Randell's profile Nick Randell Oct 16 2014 - 12:12pm
  1. CILIP and the Archives and Records Association have just launched the results of a workforce survey .

    The headline findings outlined in the Executive Summary include:

    • Despite having a predominantly female workforce, at 78.1%, male workers typically earn more than women, and are nearly twice as likely to occupy senior management roles than their female counterparts;
    • The workforce has lower ethnic diversity than the national UK Labour Force Survey statistic, with 96.7% of workers identifying as ‘white’, almost 10% above the national workforce average;
    • The sector has is an ageing pool of workers, with the highest proportion (at 55·3%)in the 45-to-55 age band;
    • The workforce is highly qualified, with over two thirds holding postgraduate qualifications and most having professional qualifications as well as membership of a relevant professional body. At the same time, average wages in the sector are around the same as the UK average as a whole

    The Executive Summary can be found here. Skills for the Future projects are helping us to address some of these issues in the archives workforce but we've still got a long way to go.


  2. View Emma Stagg's profile Emma Stagg
    Offline | Last seen: 1 year 4 months ago
  3. Bore da!

    I have just come across this new report Character Matters: Attitudes, behaviours and skills in the UK Museum Workforce which some people may find helpful.  I haven't read it, nor do I know how relevant it is for colleagues in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but posting it in case it is of interest and of help before the 2016 deadline for applications!


  4. View Stephen Barlow's profile Stephen Barlow
    Offline | Last seen: 8 months 6 days ago
  5. in reply to

    Thanks Steve, it was jointly commissioned by a range of agencies and has relevance across the UK's musuem sector. A key finding, echoing our strategy, is for the need to diversify the museum workforce.

  6. View Jo Reilly's profile Jo Reilly
    Offline | Last seen: 1 week 1 day ago
  7. At HLF, we’re committed to ensuring that our heritage is inclusive and accessible, including creating a more diverse workforce. For November's live chat, we’ll be focusing on gender, challenging perceptions of heritage and how we can support and promote women in non-traditional roles.

    Join us on Thursday 8 November from 12.30-1.30pm when we'll be joined by special guests Jess Eyre (Heritage Building Trainee, Chiltern Open Air Museum), Nell Hellier (Senior Built Heritage Officer, Carmarthenshire County Council), Ruth Runacus (Apprenticeship Co-ordinator, Canal & River Trust), Paula Baron (Masonry Apprentice, Canal & River Trust) and Danielle Edmunds (Cultural Ambition Trainee, Big Pit National Coal Museum).

    Hear first-hand from our panel as they share their various experiences of starting new careers in non-traditional roles in the heritage sector and the successes and challenges they have experienced in recruiting and supporting a more gender-diverse workforce.

    So, if you would like to know more about creating welcoming workplaces, developing inclusive recruitment strategies or you're interested in a career in the heritage sector, please join us here on 8 November to hear from our panel, and ask us any questions you might have.

    You can join the Live Chat from 12.30 here https://www.hlf.org.uk/community/live-chats/challenging-perceptions-heritage-women-non-traditional-roles-thursday-8 at which time you'll be able to log-in using your HLF account (you can register here https://www.hlf.org.uk/user/register?destination=forum/10357) or one of your social media profiles (links will appear next to the comment box from 12.30pm).

    I hope you can join us,


  8. View Emma Stagg's profile Emma Stagg
    Offline | Last seen: 7 hours 21 min ago
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