What are the gaps and needs for cultural heritage professionals in Europe? CHARTER Alliance maps major challenges and suggests improvement paths

What are the gaps and needs for cultural heritage professionals in Europe? CHARTER Alliance maps major challenges and suggests improvement paths

CHARTER Alliance
CHARTER Alliance has published a new report under the title: “Forecast to fill gaps between education and training supply and labour market needs. A preliminary analysis”. The document aims to collect and summarise preliminary findings of all working groups to identify which improvements could enhance the virtuous learning circle, career development, and quality certification standards within the heritage sector. This report identifies gaps and needs that are perceived to affect the development of professional activities within the field of heritage and showcase examples that demonstrate possibilities for resolving some of these needs

CHARTER Alliance’s new report follows a qualitative approach, including inputs from working meetings, consortium partners, document analysis, and interviews. A total of 59 proposals for good policy practices, coming from the affiliated CHARTER Alliance regions, were collected through a consortium call, from which 14 were addressed following their effectiveness, efficiency, impact and scalability, transferability, and sustainability.

The following article seeks to update cultural heritage stakeholders on the key findings presented in a new report. If the identified gaps, needs, and challenges resonate with you, we strongly encourage you to explore the full report. This will provide you with a broader context and more in-depth knowledge. You can access the complete report here.

 

Main needs in the cultural heritage sector

CHARTER Alliance

 

 

Drawing on the accumulated wealth of knowledge and findings CHARTER Alliance has produced so far, the report outlines various needs within the heritage sector, spanning technology, sustainable development, professional collaboration, public administration involvement, diversity, funding, social uses, knowledge transfer, occupation coding, and skills description.

 

 

  • Artificial Intelligence and Digital Technology: The report emphasizes the importance of balancing the role of technology with human experience in heritage. It stresses the need for humans to make sustainable decisions in technology development.
  • UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Heritage is recognized as a transformative force for sustainable development, with a focus on addressing skills needs related to energy efficiency, climate change, and other challenges.
  • Interconnectedness in Heritage Fields: There is a notable lack of interconnectedness among professional fields in the heritage sector. The report highlights the importance of professionals collaborating across disciplines to create a holistic approach.
  • Public Administration’s Role: Acknowledging the potential role of public administration, the report suggests that heritage should be integrated across all government administrative areas to influence societal decision-making positively.
  • Diversity and Elimination of Inequalities: The need to increase staff diversity and eliminate inequalities in heritage organizations is emphasized. The report underlines the importance of upgrading the preparation of heritage professionals to address these issues.
  • Funding Strategies: The heritage sector needs to strategically engage with various funding opportunities, including public funding, commercial interest, philanthropy, and civil society contributions. Funding is deemed essential for the independence of heritage organizations.
  • Social and Adaptive Uses of Heritage: The report highlights the importance of incorporating social use and reuse of heritage, emphasizing its positive impact on social inclusion, well-being, urban regeneration, sustainable agriculture, and rural development.
  • Knowledge and Skills Transfer: The need for improved methods and opportunities for intergenerational learning and knowledge exchange is emphasized. The report suggests exploring international learning experiences and utilizing Erasmus+ funds for professional development.
  • Coding of Occupations: The report addresses the challenge of coding heritage occupations, emphasizing the need for standardized coding systems to recognize and make visible professions within the sector.
  • Description of Skills: There is a need to contextualize skills descriptions within the heritage sector to reflect competency accurately. The report highlights the challenge of generic skills descriptions within the ESCO system and advocates for a more sector-specific approach.

 

16 experts commented on systemic requirements for professional activities development

CHARTER Alliance

 

CHARTER Alliance interviewed 16 experts, most of whom agreed on the presence of competences gaps in establishing and understating the nature of heritage per se as an ecosystem and how professionals can position it as a societal, future-oriented resource.

From the perspective of the professional areas, several of the respondents expressed concerns on present and future practice of skills in heritage operations, such as:

 

 

Theoretical and practical knowledge gap:

  • Respondents highlight a clear separation between theoretical knowledge acquired in classrooms and practical situations.
  • Concerns about graduates lacking practical know-how and the absence of practical-oriented education.
  • Emphasis on the need for interdisciplinary approaches and digital competencies.

Education providers and practice:

  • The gap between education and practice affects the recruitment of professionals, with mismatched skills and knowledge.
  • Lack of vocational training in some fields, and the need to better inform and orientate students about real job requirements.

Digital skills challenge:

  • Digitisation is both recognized as essential and considered a challenge, emphasizing the need to balance technology and human aspects.
  • Importance of technical understanding of digital tools for heritage professionals.

Missing skills:

  • Varied skills are deemed necessary, including management of heritage projects, finding new funding sources, understanding laws, and effective communication.
  • Suggestions for skills enhancement through both formal (new programs) and informal (summer courses, networking) education.

Interconnectedness of cultural heritage functions:

  • Lack of creative and innovative multi- and trans-area practices.
  • Challenges in building links between heritage and other sectors, especially breaking down barriers between natural and cultural heritage.

Career opportunities:

  • Perceived career prospects for heritage professionals but limited by resource constraints.
  • Suggestions for introducing legal professionals and diversifying career paths.
  • Challenges include integrating practices in a multi- and transdisciplinary manner and implementing interdisciplinary approaches effectively.

Addressing challenges:

  • Urgent need for heritage professionals to adapt to dynamic challenges, contribute to societal well-being, address social justice issues, and promote values-based democracy.
  • Emphasis on promoting diversity, inclusion, and effective communication with the general public.
  • Recognising heritage as a key player in the circular economy strategy and rethinking conservation scope.

 

The CHARTER Alliance highlights the importance of non-formal and informal learning

CHARTER Alliance

 

 

 

Among the different conclusions and recommendations this report issues, the importance of recognising the value of non-formal and informal learning methods is highly stressed, due to their flexibility in terms of time, location, and learning approaches, when compared to formal education and training. The report recommends the following principles for these learning forms:

 

 

  • Define shared quality standards for informal learning paths, using taxonomies like Bloom’s Taxonomy.
  • Support tools that make competences acquired through informal learning visible, with multiple recognition levels (attendance certificates, portfolio assessment, exam assessment).
  • Link these competences to recognition in higher education and the labor market.

Three models of non-formal learning are identified:

  • Communities of Practice: Defined as groups of people sharing a concern or passion, learning and improving together through regular interaction.
  • Virtuous Learning Circles: Involves sharing experiences, learning from each other, and applying a hermeneutic circle where knowledge evolves dynamically through questions and answers.
  • Professional Learning Networks (PLN): Involves building ecosystems of support for ongoing career-based learning, utilizing various means such as tools, techniques, spaces, and people. Composed of groups of heritage professionals using both analog and digital means for discussion, advising, sharing experiences, providing feedback, offering support, and mentoring.

These would facilitate the exchange of knowledge, skills, experiences, and discussions, within the professional fields of heritage practice on a European level. This should be encouraged and principles for enabling quality certification standards should be met.

 

 

Continue reading the Full Report in the Results section of CHARTER’s website.

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