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15 February 2009
British archaeologists lose their jobs as recession bites

Archaeology in Britain is in 'serious crisis' because of the recession-hit building industry, according to those in the profession. By the end of the year around one in five of the country's 7,000 archaeologists are expected to have lost their jobs, experts believe. The profession has expanded rapidly in recent years thanks to legislation that forced developers to pay for digs. But now jobs are going because so many construction projects are being put on hold.
     In the last quarter of 2008, 345 lost their jobs, according to to the Institute for Archaeologists. This year another thousand are likely to go, according to Mike Pitts, editor of British Archaeology magazine. He said: "Our industry is in serious crisis, which is something that should concern anyone interested in our nation's rich history and heritage. The shrinking economy is threatening to cut the heart out of commercial fieldwork. We have entered 2009 with stalled heritage legislation, museums in crisis, a fragmented profession and 1,000 potential job losses."
     Kenneth Aitchison, head of projects for the Institute for Archaeologists, said anyone who was made redundant by the cuts would have to find a 'whole new career'. He said the industry had tripled in size after laws making digs part of the planning process came into effect in 1990, from about 2,000 practitioners to just under 7,000. Andrew Fitzpatrick from Wessex Archaeology, one of Britain's leading practices, said: "We have been affected by the credit crunch and we have regrettably been forced to lay off some members of staff. If the construction industry is suffering then it has a massive knock-on effect on preparatory industries such as ours."

Source: Telegraph.co.uk (9 February 2009)

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