12 February 2014

At last... a Chartered Institute for Archaeologists!

Today the IfA (Institute for Archaeologists) announced that it will become incorporated by Royal Charter. This is a tremendous achievement following many years of hard work by the staff and Council of the IfA. Congratulations to everyone involved!

An archaeological pint in Radnorshire. Photograph copyright Paul Belford.

The precise future timetable remains unknown, but archaeology is certainly now on the road to achieving better recognition as a profession - and this will potentially provide better outcomes for heritage generally as well as for individuals employed in the sector.

This moment represents a significant milestone on a very long haul from the origins of the IfA in the early 1980s. The creation and maintenance of rigorous professional standards - both for individuals and organisations - has been an essential component of that. The IfA is certainly more of a professional institute than ever before, but as Chartership comes upon us we need to finally confront one or two bad habits.

There is a tendency amongst some (both inside and outside the IfA) to consider it as a trade union. Now is the time to stop getting bogged down in endless and ultimately pointless debates about pay minima for individuals, and focus instead on increasing the wider benefits to the profession as a whole. One of those wider benefits is the Registered Organisation scheme, which theoretically ensures consistent approaches between different archaeological organisations. However there is a perception in places that the monitoring and maintenance of standards has not been all it could be - and we need to ensure that this is sustained so that the profession retains credibility.

By 'we' I mean all of us in the profession. The RO scheme only works because people give up their time to carry out inspections; the progress made by Council and the various committees is only possible because individuals commit their own time (and sometimes a lot of that time) to making sure things happen.

The only way to make Chartership work is for all archaeologists to become more closely involved with the IfA. More information about Chartership can be found on the IfA's website.

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