The Heritage Trust Network Youth Forum had a busy month in October. Heritage Trust Network 2023 Conference in NewcastleGateshead invited the Youth Forum to present and have a stand, here the group took the opportunity to encourage delegates to contribute to their ever-growing Advice Library. That month, The Heritage Alliance had also approached the group asking them to contribute a letter of advice to a young person looking to start a career in the sector ahead of their debate Careers at a Crossroads: How can we futureproof the Heritage Sector Workforce? This put the forum in a unique position of giving and receiving advice over a period of a couple of weeks.
Youth Forum members who attended Conference found delegates eager to share advice, anecdotes, encouragement, and the sometimes bazaar nuggets of wisdom. Delegates pleaded the case for young people to enter certain areas of the sector such as archaeology, aware that it is dominated by an older generation. They passed on valuable information about organisations to volunteer with to help learn heritage skills and support local communities. Many delegates talked wistfully about the network of heritage professionals they surrounded themselves with and who supported them in the sector. They suggested that young people should do the same. One went further, suggesting that early career professionals should be tactical with the networks they choose, ‘Think about the team Winnie the Pooh has in his friendship group’ they wrote, ‘and surround yourself with at least one of each’.
The week after conference, the Youth Forum set about coproducing a letter of advice to people looking for The Heritage Alliance in support of their upcoming debate. The advice was from others who were struggling to find their footing in the sector, and those whose memories of the plight were still fresh. Suggestions from the Youth Forum were practical and sought to overcome the barriers they had experienced. This included inspiring people to find flexible volunteering solutions, directing them to online opportunities, and encouraging them to seek out bursaries to attend heritage events where they can start to build those all-important networks of contacts. The forum shared lists of places to find jobs, networks of people, and highlighted the value transferable skills have to help young people get a foot in the door.
Both groups saw the importance of encouraging more young people to join the heritage sector and agreed that networking and volunteering are crucial for unlocking opportunities. Delegates at conference, presumably with more established careers, focused on what makes a good network, and what areas of the sector would benefit from young people entering the workforce. In contrast, the Youth Forum addressed the challenges young people faced when trying to build these networks and experiences. It was practical, tangible and relevant. This insight underscores a valuable lesson; although the sector is aware that there are challenges to starting a career here, they lack awareness of the barriers young people face to gain the experience and networks required to overcome these challenges. The Youth Forum’s recent, firsthand experiences enable them to offer practical advice tailored to the specific struggles graduates encounter, this emphasizes and endorses the importance of the Youth Forum’s contributions to the sector.
For more advice and helpful links for those looking to enter the heritage sector, visit the Youth Forums Advice Library.
More information about joining the Youth Forum.