Planning the museum workforce for the next decade 6/10/2016

Several arts bodies including ACE, AIM, the MA and MGS have commissioned a report, Character Matters, from BOP consulting on the current make-up of the museum workforce and what it should look like over the next decade. Based on 2,000 survey responses plus interviews and consultations, the research is described as 'the first of its kind'. Findings include:

  • As museums emphasise resilience, they seek employees who combine a specialism with a broader range of other skills and knowledge. Business management and digital skills are particularly valued - 22% of the workforce have had income generating activities added to their job descriptions in the last three years.
  • Most staff hold long-term contracts, although there has been a move towards short-term contracts within the last three years.
  • A small majority of staff, 55%, earn less than the national average of £27,600.
  • Psychologically, the workforce has a strong emotional commitment to its work, but is slightly more pessimistic and risk averse than average.
  • Men are more likely to hold senior management positions, but the most typical demographic for a museum workers is white women, 88% of whom will have a first degree and 59% a second-degree.

The report offers 30 recommendations for the future, among them:

  • Diversifying the workforce is a priority, and funders are encouraged to reward those who do so.
  • There should be more opportunities for workforce development. Sector bodies should create learning opportunities, both for groups focusing on a particular specialism and short courses for individuals.
  • Employers should pilot less traditional recruitment methods, initially for short-term posts. Apprenticeships and 'taster sessions' should offer young people routes into the profession.
  • Subject specialist networks should be developed and given more funding to ensure the retention of collections-based knowledge.

ACE’s Director of Museums John Orna-Ornstein welcomed the report saying “workforce diversity needs to be a priority for everyone across the arts and culture sector… Everyone working in the sector should have the opportunity for personal development; that is the responsibility of funders, sector bodies and every museum.” ACE (executive summary), ACE (full report), ACE (overview), M+H, AIM