Museums need more diverse workforce

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UK museums need to change their recruitment practices to attract a more diverse workforce, says a new report commissioned by the MuseumsAassociation and Arts Council England.

The report, Character Matters: Attitudes, Behaviours and Skills in the UK Museum Workforce also says that there is a shortage of people who can combine a museum specialism with business, leadership and digital skills. 

Researchers found that the majority of the museum workforce is made up of white women, although on average men in the sector earn more and occupy more senior positions. It also found that 88% of respondents hold a degree of some sort; and that just 30% of museum job adverts state that they would consider equivalent experience rather than a formal qualification. 

The report suggests that museums should pilot non-traditional recruitment methods for some short-term posts and to put a higher priority on personal qualities such as conscientiousness and optimism rather than formal qualifications. These qualities are assets in a work environment that will require adaptability, entrepreneurialism and fewer deep specialisms.  It adds that the museums sector faces a challenge to be more flexible, agile and entrepreneurial and supportive of their workforce?”

Sharon Heal, the MA’s director, says: “We believe that the sector needs to foster values such as equality, diversity and inclusion in order to best respond to the changing environment in which we operate and that these values are at the heart of our new professional development programmes.”

“It should be a clarion call to all of us,” says John Orna-Ornstein, ACE’s director of museums. “The strongest asset of museums is their workforce and they deserve proper support and development.”

The report was also supported by Museums Galleries Scotland and the Association of Independent Museums, and produced by BOP Consulting with the Museum Consultancy.

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