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Archaeology Matters

CBA support for the NVQ in Archaeological Practice

The NVQ in Archaeological Practice is a vocational qualification that accredits professional competency via a portfolio of candidate's work. Over the past three years the NVQ has been undertaken by trainees as part of the Community Archaeology Bursaries Project coordinated by the CBA.

Kerry Massheder-Rigby proudly showing her NVQ certificate

Former CBA Community Archaeology bursary-holder, Kerry Massheder-Rigby, proudly holding her NVQ certificate, October 2014

NVQ in Archaeological Practice

The first NVQs in Archaeological Practice were awarded in 2009 having been developed by the Institute for Archaeologists (IfA) on behalf of the Archaeology Training Forum. NVQs are National Vocational Qualifications, which as the name indicates, are work-based qualifications. They are based on National Occupational Standards that describe the skills, knowledge and understanding required to undertake a particular task or job to a nationally recognised level of competence.

Accreditation for Community Archaeology bursary-holders

As part of the CBA's Community Archaeology Bursaries Project bursary-holders have undertaken the Level 3 NVQ in Archaeological Practice whilst completing year-long training placements. Pursuit of the NVQ has provided trainees with an additional mentor, often from outside their host organisation, as well as opportunity to develop the vocabulary to effectively describe their professional competencies: all so crucial for making applications for employment and in seeking professional accreditation.

The NVQ comprises four mandatory units that demonstrate a candidate's competence to undertake research, contribute to Health & Safety in the workplace, progress their professional development, and protect the interests of others. In addition, two optional units are selected. Popular choices include: contributing to intrusive investigation; providing information on the material remains of past communities; contributing to non-intrusive investigation; and classifying and maintaining data on the material remains of the past.

Cross-sector mentoring

The Community Archaeology Bursaries Project has aimed not only to equip individuals with the skills to work effectively in community archaeology but also to enhance the capacity of the heritage sector to deliver sustainable training and share good practice. As a result, CBA Training Co-ordinator, Tara-Jane Sutcliffe, has provided 'train-the-trainer' workshops for placement supervisors and mentors as well as for NVQ Assessors. Mentoring is a two-way learning opportunity and assessors of the NVQ report a number of benefits to their own continuing professional development. These include: keeping up-to-date with changes in the sector; raised awareness of new technology and different ways of working; as well as a reinvigorated enthusiasm for the profession. 

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