Skills for the Future – Worcestershire Treasures: fully funded traineeships develop both trainees and museums

By Adrian Murphy

In October seven HLF-funded Skills for the Future trainees successfully completed the third and final year of Worcester’s innovative heritage traineeships. The programme had enabled heritage venues to up-skill these graduates in order to plug the skills gaps within the sector

Since 2011 a total of 17 graduates have completed the paid traineeship within the heritage sector in Worcester. Of these 17, 11 have secured employment within the sector with most of the remaining six going on to further study or other paid employment.

With additional support and funding from Worcestershire County Council and the University of Worcester, and managed by Museums Worcestershire, all trainees have completed their traineeships at library, archive and museums settings in and around the historic city of Worcester.

Host locations for the third tranche of trainees included: Worcester Cathedral Library and Archive; the Elgar Birthplace Museum; George Marshall Medical Museum; The Infirmary Museum; University of Worcester Research Collections; Museum of Royal Worcester; Worcestershire Archives and Archaeology Service; and Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum.

“The project has seen 100 per cent of trainees gain employment in the sector or move on to further study on completion of their traineeship,” says Gemma Dhami Learning, Volunteering and Partnerships Manager, Museums Worcestershire. “For every two people employed in the heritage and museum sector around three other jobs benefit.”

To-date of the first ten trainees five remain employed in heritage or related sectors, three in Worcestershire, representing a significant boost for the museums and heritage sector in Worcestershire as each paid museum employee is worth £366,170 to the local economy (data source West Midlands Economic Impact Survey 2014, MDO satisfaction survey 2013, Marches Network).

Emalee Beddoes graduated from the Worcestershire Treasures programme, part of the HLF-funded Skills for the Future and is now curatorial assistant at Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum

“The early stages of a heritage career and making a living do not go always go hand in hand so the Worcestershire’s Treasures traineeship has been a fantastic opportunity to develop practical and employable skills whilst also studying,” says Emalee Beddoes, who was one of the Worcestershire Treasures to come through the Skills for the Future programme and is now curatorial assistant at Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum.

Through the programme the trainees undertook a programme of on the job learning and structured training including studying for a Post Graduate qualification in Leadership and Management (Heritage) at the University of Worcester Business School. Heritage organisations who might not be able to offer such trainee positions have been able to do so and address the difficulties of providing work-based learning opportunities within what are often small organisations.

The trainees had the opportunity to develop the skills needed to secure jobs and develop their careers in a world where fundraising, generating income and marketing to new audiences sit alongside more traditional heritage disciplines. “In challenging times, I’m delighted that we have been able to invest in the talent of the future,” says Dhami.  “Worcestershire’s Skills for the Future project has led the way in the county, and the region, to develop new ways of supporting and diversifying new people into the heritage sector,” The project has created a mutually beneficial relationship, where museums, libraries and archives have learnt from the fresh ideas of new entrants and new entrants have received hands on training.”

Dhami says that Museums Worcestershire has been honoured to host the Skills for the Future programme for Worcestershire, and has benefited a great deal by the partnerships gained with the other organisations involved and we will all continue to work together and hopefully continue on with another skills development programme in the future. “We have learnt a lot, gaining fresh insight from the eager and passionate trainees, and we know from feedback from the trainees that they have learnt much about themselves and what they can achieve in the process,” she says. “In a lot of ways the museum and heritage sector has not used this model of professional development (work based training with qualification) to the same extent as other sectors, and it gives the sector the chance to show people wanting to come into the sector what it’s really like, and the sector gets to impart it’s huge knowledge base onto the next generation of museum professionals.”

Museums Worcestershire is working to get the funding necessary to continue the Worcestershire Treasures programme and continues to manage a mixture of apprenticeships, traineeships and graduate schemes at different museum and heritage sites.