HC Deb 19 January 1989 vol 145 cc263-4W
Mr. Hayes

To ask the Minister for the Arts what developments there have been on museums training following his statement on 17 March 1988.

Mr. Luce

In my statement of 17 March 1988 I welcomed the Museums and Galleries Commission working party report on museums training and career structure, which was published in July 1987.

I was pleased to announce that my Department, with the MSC, was providing support and financial assistance for a museums skills needs assessment study to identify key skills and competencies. This study, for which the principal agent is the Museums Association, is now almost completed and will result in the production of new modules for the training of those currently or prospectively working in museums.

In my 17 March statement I said that it was not my intention to set up a Museums Training Council with regional panels in the form recommended by the MGC report. I considered it appropriate that the primary responsibility for museums training should rest with the museums industry itself, and that the continuing developments in this area should be overseen and guided by a consortium representing the main sectors of the museums industry. I indicated that I would be consulting further about the composition of such a consortium.

I am pleased to announce that discussions with interested parties, including the representatives of museums interests on the steering committee for the training needs assessment study, have resulted in a proposal that the Museums Association should establish a museums training institute, which would be a subsidiary charitable company of the association. The museums training institute would be responsible for forming a view on the museum industry's training needs, identifying standards for occupations in the industry, reviewing the content and delivery of training, promoting the provision of training, providing training in selected areas and validating training courses. It is the intention that the board of the institute will consist of an independent chairman, members representing the Museums Association, the national, local authority and independent museums, the Museums and Galleries Commission, the area museum councils, and a number of independent members.

If this proposal is to be developed, as I hope it will be, it is important that the interested parties, including the museums industry and museums organisations, work together to ensure its success. The Office of Arts and Libraries will be contributing £25,000 towards the initial start-up costs of the museums training institute, and towards the preparation of a business plan. Looking beyond the information of the institute, I am prepared to provide limited funding on a pump-priming basis for a period of up to five years. I shall look to the museums industry and employers to contribute a progressively increasing share of the costs of the institute following the substantial public investment in the development of museums training by the Office of Arts and Libraries and the Training Agency.

In the past 18 months considerable progress has been made in the development of museum training. The analysis of key skills and competencies has provided a sound basis for further progress and I shall continue to take a close interest in progress towards the establishment of a lead industry body for the museums sector which will carry forward and develop these initiatives.

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