Fighting The Battle Of Who Could Care Less

The title of today’s post comes from a Ben Folds Five song (entitled, funnily enough, Battle Of Who Could Care Less), mostly because it happens to be playing in my study at this exact moment, but it’s also quite apt. I hate doing it, but I feel a rant coming on…

As an unemployed museums person on the bottom end of the museums ladder, I spend a lot of time scouring the internet for job adverts. And a trend is beginning to attract my attention: I have seen in the last year (last few months particularly) a lot of traineeships and internships aimed at getting young people into enty-level positions which would otherwise be denied to them due to lack of education/experience. Which is great – the museums sector desperately needs a crop of young people with experience, and outside of volunteering there are few ways to get the necessary experience. But what I’m not seeing advertised anywhere are the entry-level positions that these trainees/interns are supposed to be going into after they’re done being trainees and interns. If there were any, I’d be applying for them myself!

Maybe next year there will a spate of entry-level positions advertised to accomodate these fresh, newly-trained museums professionals. But I doubt it. The museum sector as a whole was hit early and hard by the governments cuts made in the wake of the recent (and ongoing) financial crisis, and continue to be made. Where people leave or retire from a post, they are not generally renewed or readvertised, and new positions are very rarely being made. Especially, it seems, in the sciences. This may just be my bias because I pay more attention to what’s going on the the world of science, but I’m not convinced. While science curatorships are cut, positions in the arts are still being advertised. Which doesn’t surprise me, because while the general public is not as interested in art (see my post from a while ago discussing the results of a Museums Association survey on this topic), it is the art supporters that bring in the most money to museums.

So where does this leave our current trainees and interns? Sadly, I suspect it will leave them in the same position as me in a year or two – unemployed and bitter at the injustice of the world, with no use for their new-found knowledge and skills except to volunteer at their local museum, which will probably by then be run by an army of volunteers as the paid staff find themselves victims of yet more cut-backs. Ah, the Big Society at work.

Hey-ho. Actually, this week I’ve found a few jobs to apply for (some of which I’m actually qualified for!), and I’ve just applied for a job in the States, where the global financial catastrophe doesn’t seem to have hit museums quite so hard. Fingers crossed!


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