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…
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
- 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.
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…
In an HBJ post from February (6 February 2012), Christopher Dore noted a recent report from Colorado that summarized the economic impacts of preservation on local and national economies. Reports like this have become increasingly common as many become more aware and accepting of the positive benefits of preservation. Just during the recent economic slump in the U.S. economy, similar reports have emerged out of Nebraska, Washington state, and Pennsylvania, to name a few, followed in November 2011 by a report from the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation (ACHP), an independent federal agency.
One of the conclusions that emerges from these types of studies, which is particularly relevant in the current economic climate, is that historic preservation activities creates jobs, a point consistently made by Donovan Rypkema, an economist and preservationist and one of the lead authors of the ACHP report, who generalizes that spending for new construction is split about half and half between labor and materials, while between approximately two-thirds and three-quarters of rehabilitation spending goes toward labor and the remaining to materials. This means that rehabilitation projects not only produce jobs and employ local labor, but it puts the money into the hands of those that live in the community rather than sending it outside, which is what typically happens when money is spent on materials. Additionally, small businesses are responsible for creating the vast majority of new jobs in America, and historic buildings often provide the ideal location out of which to run a new or small business carrying on the domino effect of the positive economic benefits of preservation. Read more…
A very thoughtful comment was made about HBJ post Employment: Multidisiplinary firms vs. heritage-only firms (18 Feb 2012):
“Large multi-service firms tend hire and terminate for each project because their offices rarely have enough local work to retain technicians. They tend to have centralized full time labs and production centers that do not have positions for techs for after fieldwork tasks. Whereas many hertiage-only company like CRA use full-time technicians in a variety of tasks. The ability to live near a company’s office(s) to come in and do post-fieldwork tasks is the key to full time work. In addition the ability to move techs and other staff between offices reduce the need for temporary project specific techs except for the largest field projects. Plus in any given year we receive enough cold call applicants from technicians with good resumes that simply working the resume file drawer eliminates the need for an ad for most projects.”Steve Creasman and Kay Simpson
A high turnover of technicians in multi-service firms could easily explain why there are more job advertisements from these types of companies than from heritage-only firms. To explore this more, I also took a look at senior positions (e.g. principle investigators, senior archaeologists, office/regional managers) for the same 2011 data set. Of course titles are not standardized across the sector and names can be misleading, but a full 46% of the job advertisements reviewed asked for 10-25 years of experience and 55% asked for 5-9 years of experience (a slight overlap with some asking for 8-12 years). The job descriptions and requirements (years of experience, permits, etc.) firmly place these jobs in the top levels of employment regardless of title. None of these jobs mentioned temporary employment but that does not mean it is not. However, asking for 20 years of experience for a temporary job would be rare but not unheard of (or it should be in my personal opinion). Out of 79 job postings, 61 of them mentioned their employers (some of the job postings have been removed making it impossible to see who was the employer). In this data set the breakdown is even more lopsided in favor of multi-service firms
Heritage-only firms may look for their top-level workers through other means than advertisement such as internal promotion or through professional networks. A lack of lower level positions in multi-service firms may make it hard for them to recruit internally. What these data do show is that the majority of job advertisements for archaeologists at all career levels was dominated by multi-service firms in 2011. Does this mean they get the majority of business? That can not be determined from these numbers but employment may indicate strong growth prospects.
In a recent HBJ post (17 February 2012), Christopher Dore reported that it appears that heritage-only consulting firms are losing market share to full-service firms. To add a different set of numbers to his data, I took a look at the number of job postings for field technicians on the job websites Shovelbums and ArchaeologyFieldwork.com for 2011. Eliminating duplicate posts both between and within the websites, I looked at companies offering jobs for field technicians: a total of 330 separate posts. Jobs were considered separate if the project was different even if the company was the same, six or more months had passed, or it was an emergency hire for a previous job (assumed to be a separate hiring event). If single ads were for multiple positions, the number of positions offered was not counted as most job postings did not give those details. Surprisingly, not every job listing had the company’s details or even the firm’s name on it. Thus, of the 330 unique postings, 295 were used for analysis. Here is the break down of job hiring events between CRM only firms, multi-service firms, and other firms.
In 2011, multi-service firms posted more than twice the number of job ads for field technicians than did cultural-only firms. These employment data seem to support Dore’s observation that heritage-only firms are losing market share to multidisciplinary environmental and engineering companies.
There are limits to what can and should be inferred by these results. There are many small CRM firms that do not advertise for field technician positions as their projects are too small to require a full crew. Though it does say something that the majority of job adverts for lower level positions are being done by multi-service firms. The full data can be accessed here.