No. 58 Vol. V No. 11 Published September 1977 Edited by Andrew & Wendy Selkirk, 9 Nassington Road, London NW3 2TX, Tel. 01-435 7517
Printed in Great Britain by David Green (Printers) Ltd. 18 September 1977 (9.76.7)
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The Vanishing Graduates.
What is happening to the recent graduates in archaeology? The over-rapid expansion of government expenditure in recent years has encouraged the belief that all archaeology graduates wil l be found a place within the state archaeological services. Thus the current slowing of government expenditure has come as a shock to many, and as a letter from Mr Scarre on p. 351 reveals, archaeology graduates are finding, often to their chagrin, that they must seek jobs outside archaeology.
This is neither a new, nor an unexpected development. It has been calculated that there may be up to 600 graduates a year with at least a partial degree in archaeology, of whom only some 20 may find full-time jobs as field archaeologists. Thus archaeology must inevitably accept the position occupied for so long by history and the classics, in which only a very small minority continue in the subject, and the vast majority become accountants or lawyers, civil servants or industrialists.
Unfortunately however the belief has arisen that if you cannot do archaeology full-time, i t is not worth doing archaeology at all. This is a major catastrophe, for it means that the young graduates, who should be forming the backbone of the local societies, are abandoning archaeology altogether. Yet they are urgently needed. The rescue crisis is not going to go away, and we cannot expect the increasingly restive taxpayer to shoulder more than a small part of the total burden. Much of the work of rescue archaeology must always be done by the independents, and since the state has already invested so much money in educating graduate archaeologists, one hopes that some at least of them wil l put their training to use in their spare time. Indeed, wit h the prospect of increasing leisure, many may well find that they can do more real archaeology as a spare-timer than does the so-called full-time archaeologist, who devotes his archaeological career to processing planning applications in a planning department.
But if the recent graduate is to be lured into spare-time archaeology, major changes are necessary. Local societies must launch vigorous recruiting campaigns to attract recent graduates and make them feel welcome. The graduates themselves must look on local societies wit h greater sympathy, and realise that beneath the sometimes old-fashioned exterior, there is often a native wisdom that is not to be despised. But above all, the universities should accept that the vast majority of their graduates wil l only do archaeology part-time, and they should therefore adapt their training, not to carrying out the major set-piece battles that only a very few wil l be privileged to undertake, but to the guerrilla warfare of the weekend archaeologist. There is a daunting amount of rescue archaeology ahead, and the spare-time graduate archaeologist must be expected to play a major role in the campaign.
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