Wanted: a radical museums workforce
Sharon Heal
Is the museum workforce fit for purpose? I was struck by this question recently, while chatting to some of the people involved in organising Moving On Up, the Museums Association’s (MA) one-day conference for people in the first five years of their career.

The pressing issues that they outlined included: the lack of job opportunities; competition from internships and volunteers; short-term contracts; an absence of training and professional development; and maintaining momentum.

In the current climate, people who want a career in museums need to be proactive, not passive. They need to think more broadly and flexibly about how careers might evolve, including alternative paths, and take responsibility for their own development.

The professional development that the MA runs can help give people skills for this new landscape, and at this year’s conference, there is a dedicated Careers Café with practical tips on how to get ahead.

But what do we need as a sector? If we want a workforce that can face the challenges ahead, and implement some of the change that has been discussed, we need to be clear about our priorities.

Working Wonders, the MA’s Action Plan for the workforce, highlights leadership, management and business skills as key issues. I’d add people skills; working with the public; a passion for audiences; and a commitment to changing organisations and delivering social impact as essential, not just desirable, for the workforce of the future.

  • Look out for new content in this issue, including Trendswatch, an international feature, and a longer People section to keep you up-to-date with the latest thinking and developments. We’re also going web-first for news, with more analysis in the magazine, so check out the website and don’t forget to let us know what you think about the changes we have made.

Sharon Heal, editor, Museums Journal




Moving On Up: The Secrets of a Successful Museum Career takes place at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester on 6 February 2014

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