Landward Research Ltd publishes UK archaeological labour market intelligence
Comprehensive Labour Market Intelligence for the archaeological profession has now been gathered for the fourth time in the series of Profiling the Profession studies. This baseline survey used the same fundamental methodology that was previously employed in 1997-98, 2002-03 and 2007-08, and consequently a time-series dataset has been compiled which allows trends to be identified with increasing confidence.
download the report here (pdf 4.3Mb)
The previous labour market intelligence gathering exercise for the sector (in 2007-08) was undertaken immediately before the effects of significant global and national economic changes began to affect archaeological employment. The economic transformation since 2007-08 significantly affected employment in archaeology, resulting in the sector being considerably smaller in 2012-13 than it was in 2007-08.
With an overall response rate of 224 from a population of 511 potential respondents contacted, at a confidence level of 95% this level of response is accurate to +/- 4.9%.
The estimated numbers of archaeologists working in the UK
The estimated archaeological workforce in 2012-13 was 4,792, a 30% decrease on the figure of 6,865 estimated for 2007-08 (and a 16% decrease over ten years on the estimated archaeological workforce in 2002-03 of 5,712).
A further estimated 1,148 people worked as dedicated support staff within archaeological organisations, giving an estimated total of 5,940 people directly earning their livings from archaeology.
Age, gender, ethnicity, disability status and country of origin
The average age of a working archaeologist in 2012-13 was 42; female archaeologists were on average aged 39, and male archaeologists 44. The average age of working archaeologists had increased by four years over the previous five years. By comparison, the average age of the whole UK workforce was 40.5.
The survey found that 46% of archaeologists were female and 54% were male. In 2007-08, the proportions were 41:59. 47% of the whole UK workforce in all occupations was female, 53% male.
Archaeology was not an ethnically diverse profession in 2012-13; 99% of working archaeologists were white. This was effectively unchanged since 2007-08 and from 2002-03 and contrasted with the entire UK workforce of whom 13% were of black or minority ethnic origins.
The proportion of people with disabilities working in archaeology continued to be very low; 98% of archaeologists were not disabled. This was effectively unchanged over time, while 7% of the entire UK workforce were disabled.
93% of archaeologists working in the UK in 2012-13 were from the UK, 3% were from elsewhere in the European Union, less than 1% were from non-EU Europe and 4% were from elsewhere in the world. This represented a relative decrease in the number of archaeologists from non-UK European Union countries (5% of the working population in 2007-08), and a relative increase in the number of archaeologists from elsewhere in the world (2% in 2007-08). However, as the total number of working archaeologists had fallen considerably, the absolute numbers of archaeologists from outside the UK had also fallen.
Anticipated growth of the sector
Despite experiencing a reduction in the size of the sectoral workforce in the previous five years, slightly more employers anticipated that their organisation would be larger one year in the future than expected to be smaller, with further optimistic forecasts for organisational sizes three years into the future. These expectations were noticeably more cautious than the ambitious forecasts returned in 2007-08.
Estimated numbers working in each job type
Of 4,792 archaeologists working in the UK in 2012-13, it is estimated that 2,684 (56%) of these people worked for organisations that provided field investigation and research services, 1,198 (25%) for organisations that provided historic environment advice, 96 (2%) provided museum and visitor services and 815 (17%) worked for organisations that provided education and academic research. These percentages changed relatively little over the five years from 2007-08, although the relative proportion working to provide museum and visitor services decreased while the relative proportion working in education and academic research rose.
545 (11%) worked for national government agencies, 485 (10%) worked in local government, 690 (14%) worked for universities, 2,812 (59%) worked for commercial private sector organisations and 260 (6%) worked for other types of organisations (civil society organisations or museums).
Overall, this represented a relative increase in the percentage of archaeologists working in the private sector over the five years from 2007-08 and a decline in those working in the public sector.
More archaeologists worked in London and the south east of England than other areas, but this largely reflects the overall pattern of the UK population distribution. The geographical distribution of archaeologists has not changed significantly over the period of 15 years that the Profiling the Profession series of surveys have been undertaken.
Range of jobs
The survey collected detailed information on 888 archaeologists and support staff working in 389 jobs with 236 different post titles. This represented one post title for every 3.8 individuals; in 2007-08 there was one post title for every 5.3 individuals.
On average, full-time archaeologists earned £27,814 per annum. The median archaeological salary was £26,000 (50% of archaeologists earned more than this, 50% earned less). The average salary for those employed in the private sector, which employed 59% of the archaeological workforce, was £24,757. By comparison, the average for all UK full-time workers was £32,700 – so, overall, the average archaeologist earned 85% of the UK average as was the case in 2007-08.
Over the five years from 2007-08 to 2012-13, the average salaries of archaeologists increased by 19%. The national average for all occupations increased by 20% over that same period, so average archaeological salaries increased at approximately the same rate as the national average.
In calendar year 2012, 46% of archaeologists worked for organisations that reported that individual salaries had typically either fallen or remained unchanged.
Archaeologists were highly qualified, and over time the average levels of qualifications held have risen.
In 2012-13, one in five (20%) of archaeologists held a Doctorate or post-doctoral qualification (in 2007-08 the equivalent figure was 12%), a total of 47% held a Masters degree or higher (in 2007-08 the equivalent figure was 40%) and 93% of archaeologists held a Bachelors degree or higher (in 2007-08, the equivalent figure was 90%).
95% of archaeologists aged under 30 for whom qualifications data were available were graduates.
Potential skills shortages and skills gaps
Skills gaps (skills that existing staff need but lack) and shortages (where employers cannot find employees with the relevant skills) were identified in both technical, archaeological skills and in generic, professional skills. The severity of these gaps and shortages was categorised as significant, where more than 25% of respondents to the question had identified a problem, or serious, where more than 50% of respondents to the question had identified a problem.
A serious skills shortage was identified in post-fieldwork analysis.
Significant skills shortages were identified in fieldwork (invasive or non- invasive); artefact or ecofact conservation; and in information technology.
Significant skills gaps were identified in post-fieldwork analysis; fieldwork (invasive or non- invasive); information technology; people management; and in project management.
Employers’ commitment to training and qualifications
Overall, archaeological employers demonstrate a high level of commitment to training their staff, although the levels of support shown by several key indicators have declined since 2007-08.90% of employers identified training needs for individuals and provided training for paid staff (in 2007-08, 93% did). 46% had a formal training plan (52% did in 2007-08) and 45% formally evaluated the impact of training on individuals (48% did in 2007-08). 26% evaluated the impact of training on the organisation (28% in 2007-08), compared with 75% which identified needs for the organisation as a whole (76% in 2007-08).