New research highlights low levels of ethnic diversity in the historic environment sector

Those involved in the historic environment sector need to take more action to ensure success in developing the ethnic diversity of its work and volunteer force.

This is the conclusion of a ground-breaking research report, launched today, which examined ethnic diversity within the historic environment workforce. The report which was commissioned by the Council for British Archaeology Diversifying Participation Working Group and funded by English Heritage identified barriers to participation for minority ethnic groups in education, volunteer schemes and the workforce. The report also made a number of recommendations to overcome diversity issues through better data collection, greater profiling of ethnic minority involvement and improvement in recruitment processes and professional practices.

Report lead author from the London based UCL Centre for Applied Archaeology, James Doeser, said:

“This project began as a scoping study: the original brief was to bring together all relevant research and data on the barriers to diversifying the historic environment workforce. We found very quickly that there was a paucity of data in the public domain, but also that there were some enormous issues that were relevant and that needed to be addressed. In the end we covered a lot of ground but could only give cursory attention to some very tough questions. As a result, I hope that this report acts as a provocation, rather than the last word on the subject of workforce diversity.

From the start it was clear that ethnic diversity was a sensitive subject amongst the historic environment sector. I thank all who helped us with the research for reflecting candidly on the subject. We were dogged by problems of definition throughout: identities are complex and ever-changing. We found that people offered a lot of good intentions to address the issue of workforce diversity and I hope this report will act as a springboard for action.”

Baroness Andrews OBE, Chair of English Heritage which supported the report welcomed its findings:

“Careers advisors, universities, professional bodies and skills training providers, as well as employers like English Heritage, all have a part to play in opening up the heritage workforce to the full range of talent amongst young people. We welcome the report which lays out very clearly where there are particular barriers we can work together to overcome.

English Heritage wants to engage as wide a range of people as possible in understanding and caring for the historic environment. We were happy to provide funding support to Council for British Archaeology and Institute of Historic Building conservation to produce this report and we take its findings seriously. It is absolutely vital that all young people get the opportunity to enjoy and value heritage and think about the many careers in this field that may attract them - from stonemason to surveyor and from archaeologist to data manager. We need to ignite enthusiasm for history, heritage and archaeology in a wider range of children and encourage broader access to training and work experience for young people so that we develop a heritage workforce for the future that is both diverse and highly skilled.”

The report is available free to download.

For further information, please contact: Siona Mackelworth, Head of Marketing & Communications, Council for British Archaeology, St Mary’s House, 66 Bootham, York, YO30 7BZ. Sionamackelworth@britarch.ac.uk Tel: 01904 671417