Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service

In February 2018 I visited the Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service set in The Hive, a striking building minutes away from the banks of the River Severn in Worcester. The service holds approximately 12 miles of records and, uniquely, the microfilm sources, PC and local studies library are available on a self-service basis for almost 100 hours each week. 

The team is currently working to develop its services to remote customers, including the launch of a new website (www.explorethepast.co.uk) and a resource pack aimed at helping overseas customers understand and access the range of sources the service holds.

I went to meet the service’s team and discuss the ARA’s new competency-based approach to qualify as a Foundation, Registered and Fellow member. Dr Lisa Snook RMARA, User Services Manager at Worcester, said: “Our staff team includes Registered Members, Mentors, an Assessor and two potential Foundation Members so it was helpful for us to better understand the new Foundation and Registered membership processes”.

The ARA’s competency framework formed the basis of the initial discussion. The framework is the tool that employers should use when considering staff training and development, and individual members should use when planning their own professional development. It is also a career development tool, helping all those working in the record-keeping sector think and plan how they can maximise professional development opportunities. The framework benefits from competencies that are transferable and sector specific, enabling professionals to build on existing experience to improve their employability and drive their career forward. In addition, it helps senior managers and highly experienced individuals gain recognition for their career achievements.

We also discussed new CPD guidance, including how to develop your own professional development plan. Remember, any activity has the potential to offer CPD if there is a learning outcome that you can reflect on.  After the meeting, Lisa said: “We found Chris’ visit helpful. I’d encourage other employers to invite the ARA to meet with their team and discuss how the ARA’s new programme can help staff develop their professional status and confidence”.

It was good to be reminded of the challenges facing all public sector employees, many of whom have real concerns over pay, professional recognition and future opportunities. There is no end in sight to the financial pressures facing local authorities, or the consequential impacts on pay and opportunity. However, individuals must continue to respond positively to the issues impacting on the profession. Continuing your professional development remains as important as ever.

The service in Worcestershire offers a wealth of experience and knowledge combined with a good understanding of the importance of CPD. Their willingness to embrace opportunities must surely be one reason why Worcestershire was awarded the ARA’s Record Keeping Service of the Year 2017.

Any members or employers interested in a presentation on the ARA’s Competency Framework and Professional Development Programme should contact chris.sheridan@archives.org.uk.

Article first published in ARC magazine March 2018

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