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Canadian archaeology and the age of austerity

June 5, 2012 2 comments
Canadian maple leaf 2

A withering maple leaf? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is an essential tension that exists between industry and government:  they regulate us and sometimes they compete with us.  When you ask many business professionals about government, even in Canada, the usual response is that there is too much of it.

There is truth to this. It seems that the only cap on the growth of bureaucracy is taxpayers, and therefore, recent promises by the Federal and some provincial governments to reduce the size of government seemed at best, too little and too late.  However, while in age of austerity you can really make smart strategic cuts in expenditures, governments are inevitably drawn to the stupid.

The Government of Canada is cutting ten percent off the top of most departments, and a few percentage points more off ones they really don’t like (like the public broadcaster, the CBC). All departments have been asked to declare positions as redundant and thousands of letters have gone out: “your position has been classified as surplus, have a nice day.” This will be followed by a drawn out period of horse trading, interdepartmental moves, and such, with the result that the actual number of positions lost will not be known for some time.

Somewhat to the surprise of the heritage movement, given the federal government attention to promoting the historic battles of 1812, is that government has decided that it really does not like conservators and archaeologists and has decided to close all of the regional labs across the country. As one comment on the Canadian Archaeological Association Facebook page notes “There (will be) more people employed in a single Tim Hortons than are employed by Parks Canada nationally to preserve and care for millions of archeological historic objects in storage and on display.” Read more…

Ireland’s historic environment worth 40,000 jobs and 1.5 billion Euro

English: The Euro symbol (€) printed and in ha...

The Euro  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Heritage Council of Ireland, a statutory body established under the Heritage Act, 1995, has released a report on the Economic Value of Ireland’s Historic Environment conducted by Ecorys and Fitzpatrick Associates. As defined by the report, Ireland’s historic environment consists of two World Heritage Sites, Bru na Boinne in Co Meath and Skellig Michael off Co Kerry, more than 20 Historic National Properties, 38,000 protected structures and more than 120,000 monuments protected under the National Monuments Act. These resources were used as the basis for the economic analyses.

Some of the highlights are:

  • The historic environment is a highly significant contributor to Ireland’s national economy, directly
    supporting almost 25,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs.
  • Including indirect and induced effects, it is estimated that the historic environment sector supports
    approximately 40,000 FTE employment positions in Ireland.
  • Within the context of Ireland’s economy, it is estimated that the historic environment’s contribution to the
    national economy is equivalent to one percent of total Irish Gross Value Added (GVA), and two percent of overall employment.
  • Ireland’s built historic environment constitutes an invaluable educational resource, and at all stages of
    the lifelong learning spectrum. For example, not only are Ireland’s flagship heritage sites a major
    source of school educational visits, they are also a focus of academic research and conference
    activities.
  • The role of Ireland’s historic environment in attracting private sector investment into Irish towns and
    cities, and its contribution to enhancing quality of life/livability in these localities.

There are more benefits as well that can be seen in the report.

UK archaeology forecast shows mixed outlook

Landward Research Ltd recently completed a report on the State of the Archaeological Market in the UK. There is both good news and bad news for the state of professional archaeology. Job losses have stabilized since the the recession but they are still down 800 positions (5,900) from pre-crash levels (6,700), though these numbers do not take into account the potential growth in jobs had the recession not occurred. Looking at the Profiling the Profession reports (provided at the Landward Website) between 2002-03 and 2007-08, employment increased by 20 percent. Had that trend continued, there would currently be around 8000 archaeology jobs in the UK. This puts the actual losses at closer to 2,000 jobs. This larger number probably explains the tough competition among recent graduates and veterans for jobs, there are five years of students who have not been able to obtain jobs except from positions created by the retirement of archaeologists.

When asked if the employment situation will improve, the report shows that the opinions expressed by commercial companies and other organizations are split. Read more…

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