It’s good to see the government getting serious about vocational learning. I have a vested interest here as I was involved in the effort to create a Humanities and Social Sciences Diploma under the last government before it was abolished by the incoming coalition.
Archaeology is both an intellectual and technical discipline. One of my frustrations when I was at the Council for British Archaeology was dealing with enquiries from parents whose son or daughter was mad keen to become an archaeologist but was not going to go to university. Without a degree it is almost impossible to get into archaeology as a career now (unlike in the 1970s and 80s).
I’ve long felt there needs to be a technical pathway for entry into archaeology to make sure we are an open and accessible profession. At the moment we are highly elitist, open only to graduate and therefore overwhelmingly middle class.
This is what the BBC News website has to say about the new qualifications “Tech-levels will take as long to complete as A-Levels and will need to be endorsed by either a professional association or by five employers registered with Companies House. These qualifications will focus on hands-on practical training, leading to recognised occupations for example in engineering, computing, accounting or hospitality. In addition, Applied General Qualifications will take the same time to complete as AS-levels and will focus on broader study of a technical area, not directly linked to an occupation. These qualifications will need backing from three universities to count in performance tables.”
It would be good to see the IfA, SCFA and the CBA perhaps get together and seek to develop a Tech-level and Applied General for archaeology to sit alongside the current A Level and begin to make ourselves a more egalitarian and accessible discipline.
But then I am incurable optimist and dreamer!