Vox pop | What’s the biggest challenge facing museum workers after coronavirus? - Museums Association

Vox pop | What’s the biggest challenge facing museum workers after coronavirus?

Museum professionals share their thoughts on workforce issues under Covid
Covid-19 Workforce
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Tamsin Russell
Workforce development officer, Museums Association

“Covid has been a unique and collective experience. We will have experienced multiple impacts, whether we were working from home, furloughed or still on site. We may have been touched by loss in a variety of ways: family and friends, special events and milestones, jobs and what can feel like our future careers. For me, the biggest challenge is to remember that we are all human beings, and improving and maintaining workforce wellbeing should be seen as a priority as we rebuild the sector.”

Jane Ide
Chief executive, Creative & Cultural Skills

“The challenge we want people to focus on is how to build on progress towards fair access and recruitment at entry level. The forecasts on youth unemployment post-Covid are shocking, and doubly so with young people from disadvantaged communities. The barriers they already faced just got a lot higher, and there’s a serious risk that if organisations don’t proactively work to remove those barriers, we’ll end up with an even more homogenous workforce – and even less diverse sector leadership – in the future.”

Tom Hopkins
Co-founder, Fair Museum Jobs

“Despite acknowledging that workforce diversity and inclusion is essential for future sustainability, workforce practices are not a priority for many museums. In the face of acute existential crises, many museums continue to perpetuate inequity – disadvantaging new entrants and existing employees. For those already employed, job precarity will promote ‘the curse of gratitude’. It is crucial that the workforce is not punished for fighting for its needs.”

Mike Clancy
General secretary, Prospect

“Covid has really highlighted the weakness in the funding model for many museums. Self-raising most of their funds was a struggle even when the economy was in good shape, but with the current crisis we can see how helplessly exposed museums are. Footfall, donations and sponsorship are all going to take a long time to recover and it is workers who are likely to bear the cost, through loss of conditions, pay and jobs. If we lose this vast amount of experience and put pressure on an already undervalued workforce then the whole industry, and access to our national heritage, is at risk.”

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