Archaeological market shows modest growth

The latest State of the Archaeological Market survey shows that the development-led archaeological sector grew modestly in the nine months to December 2012. The survey, carried out by Landward Research on behalf of FAME and the IfA, was undertaken alongside the forthcoming Profiling the Profession survey, which suggests that the overall size of the archaeological sector has been consistently overestimated in previous surveys.

Staff turnover is low, and continues to be lower than previous surveys. Employers continue to report that staff leaving their employment have typically remained in archaeology.

Salaries had typically remained unchanged or risen only by inflation in 2012. However, more organisations reported salaries rising by above inflation than had been the case in April 2012.

Significant numbers of archaeological businesses have established subsidiary offices elsewhere in the UK.

Profitability is low, and average turnover decreased in 2011-12 when compared with the previous year. The majority of revenue in development-led archaeology continues to come from field investigation and post-fieldwork analysis.

Business confidence in the sector, as measured through anticipated growth, market deterioration or businesses failure, is improving. Respondents were more optimistic about retaining staff and the future state of the market than had been the case in April 2012; for the first time since January 2010, more respondents considered that market conditions would improve than thought it would deteriorate. However, the overwhelming majority of respondents expect some archaeological businesses to fail in the next year, and respondents were more negative on this point than they had been in April 2012.

The most commonly reported area of skills loss continues to be fieldwork, which has been the case since surveys began in 2009. More organisations are investing in training than are reporting that they are losing skills, although post-excavation analysis and artefact and ecofact conservation are two areas where skills are more likely to be bought in from external providers than developed through investment in training. In general, respondents were more likely to recognise skills issues affecting the archaeological profession as a whole than within their own organisations.

Since April 2012, support for the NVQ in Archaeological Practice had increased. IfA ROs and FAME members were much more likely than other archaeological organisations to have supported staff undertaking the NVQ, and were significantly more likely than others to consider doing so in the future.

The full report may be viewed here.

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