State of the Archaeological Market 2020

Landward Research have been working with FAME, the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers, to produce the State of the Archaeological Market 2020 report.

Summary and Foreword from the Chair of FAME:

This survey presents the latest understanding we have of the health and economic performance of commercial archaeological practice in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. It demonstrates the value we make to the overall economy, and the improving sustainability of the sector when measured by permanent employment contracts, the level of turnover per staff member, and levels of profit. Compared to other SMEs within the UK economy for 2020, where only 70% have recorded profit, commercial archaeology seems to be doing well. This situation allows confidence in a sustainable future for the sector and enables managers and employers to plan effective development of their organizations.
Previous surveys have highlighted the sector’s dependence on housing as the principal source of funding, but the huge government investment in infrastructure for road and rail has had a direct effect on the type of archaeological project that now predominates. This change has affected working practices as well as funding streams, as the scale of such projects has necessitated greater collaboration between different practitioners so that consortia and joint ventures, as well as other kinds of partnership, have developed. The upskilling in project management and health and safety is also evident, with expectations from infrastructure and public sector funding placing new demands on archaeologists. Engagement with those responsible for setting standards in these fields is now being conducted by FAME, so that the
requirements imposed on those delivering strategic schemes can be proportionate to the role that archaeologists perform.
The survey also provides evidence for extreme variation in development and the need for commercial archaeological practice, with nearly 30% of the total value in London and the south-east, rising to c.50% when the East of England and East Midlands are included. It demonstrates the unequal distribution of archaeologists, which must influence variations in pay and conditions within the sector, as market conditions dictate supply and demand. We remain dependent on a significant contribution from colleagues coming to us from abroad, but the survey also shows how many organizations are providing training opportunities and developing a future home-grown skills base. FAME members should be proud of what they have achieved, and this survey should give them confidence for the future.

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