As a couple who have become involved with archaeology in recent years as volunteers, we are quite interested in the discussion on training for amateurs and their place in archaeology.
In my previous existence as a police officer and especially as a staff association representative I used to be most concerned with the employment of unpaid special constables apparently taking away paid overtime for regular officers. As the years progressed however I, and many others, accepted that there was a place for specials providing they were adequately trained and seen in a supportive role doing something that needed to be done but there were no regular resources to do it.
It strikes me that this analogy is very similar to community based archaeology employing local volunteers - it is something that needs to be done but would not be done unless there were volunteers to do it.
As has been expressed by other List contributors there is the question of training. Some very good points were made by David Petts in his message of the 5th July. At our project, www.whitehallvilla.co.uk we have been fortunate that we have been able to avail ourselves of some specialised training, some of which is accredited for CAT points.
What does seem to me though is the need for some type of recognised competency based system of assessment to a national standard, akin to the NVQ system. This would then allow a volunteer to move between sites/ projects with proof of his/her ability to a common standard. This should be assuring for site directors! Yes it would cost money and time but perhaps worth thinking about, who will pick it up - the CBA, IFA or a University?
Dave & Sally Hayward