Commercial, applied archaeology grew modestly in the nine months to December 2012. However, a wider data collection exercise has revealed that the size of the entre archaeological sector had been consistently overestimated. The total numbers working in archaeology are considerably lower than had been previously believed.
Within commercial, applied archaeology, overall business confidence is improving.
Levels of staff turnover are low, and have continued to be lower than reported in previous surveys. Employing organisations continue to consider that people who have left that employer have typically remained in archaeology.
Salaries had typically remained unchanged or risen only by inflation in 2012. However, more organisations reported salaries rising by above inflation than had been the case in April 2012.
Significant numbers of archaeological businesses have subsidiary offices located elsewhere in the United Kingdom.
Profitability is low and average turnover decreased in 2011-12 when compared with 2010-11. The majority of revenue in applied archaeology comes from undertaking field investigation and post-fieldwork analysis.
Business confidence, as measured through anticipation of growth in staff numbers, market deterioration and the failure of businesses in the sector is improving. Respondents were more positive about retaining staff numbers and the future state of the market than had been the case in April 2012; for the first time since January 2010, more respondents considered that market conditions would improve than thought it would deteriorate. However, the overwhelming majority of respondents expect some archaeological businesses to fail in the next year, and respondents were more negative on this point than they had been in April 2012.
The most commonly reported area of skills losses continues to be in fieldwork skills, which has been the case since this series of reports began to collect data in 2009. More organisations are investing in training in many skills areas than are reporting that they are losing skills, although post-excavation analysis and artefact and ecofact conservation are the two areas where skills are more often bought in from external providers than were investment is made in training staff.
In general, respondents were more likely to recognise skills issues affecting the archaeological profession as a whole than within their own organisations. IfA ROs and FAME members were much more likely than organisations across the archaeological profession as a whole to have supported someone undertaking the NVQ in Archaeological Practice, and were very significantly more likely to consider supporting someone in the future than the profession as a whole. Over the period since April 2012, support for the NVQ had increased.