2007 Yearbook

INSTITUTE OF HISTORIC BUILDING CONSERVATION YEARBOOK 2007 24 I N R E V I E W AFFILIATE MEMBERSHIP – IHBC MEMBERSHIP IN THE 21st CENTURY Mike Lea MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY and Seán O’Reilly IHBC DIRECTOR The range of people featured in the following pages conveys an idea of the huge variety of the skills, experience and knowledge that the special collective of IHBC Affiliate members can bring to their respective roles in 21st century conservation. Many have passed through the traditional conservation courses, as ever an invaluable training ground for our profession and institute, while others have come to us through their own web searches, finding in our outreach the best description of their professional aspirations and career ambitions. One of these people, Nikhil Joshi, has just this December successfully achieved full membership after a little over a year as an Affiliate. This year is the perfect time to recognise the diversity and complexity of our membership base, as the training and skills needs of conservation professionals will feature in many relevant initiatives. English Heritage’s ‘Heritage Counts’ will take training and skills as its theme, while IHBC also expects the relevant occupational standards to be agreed with the Creative and Cultural Sector Skills Council. Furthermore, the institute, through the director, is participating in the training needs assessment of built environment professionals promoted by the Construction Industry Council and by the National Heritage Training Group. And, as a crowning challenge, the integration of archaeology into England’s wider planning and conservation framework means we need to widen our skills base to properly encompass the aspirations of that discipline just as we do already with architecture. Focusing on Affiliate membership this year is especially valuable for us as an institute as it reminds us of the conservation skills and aspirations of current and future conservation professionals. Being largely composed of the most recent people to join the institute, it shows just how the profession is evolving, giving pointers to our future development. Affiliate membership indicates that a person subscribes to our conservation values. As such, the member is required to subscribe to the conservation and professional principles of the institute in their study and work, including the IHBC’s code of conduct. Also, Affiliates are encouraged to adopt the tighter obligations imposed on full members, including undertaking and monitoring continuing professional development (CPD). As the examples profiled here clearly show, it is essential to appreciate that Affiliate membership does not signify an absence of skills. Rather it enables professionals to gain the benefits of the institute while preparing the ground for applying for full membership, even if that class of membership is not necessarily an immediate career priority. Full membership is subject to demonstration of the broad knowledge base that underpins our requirements – the IHBC’s ‘Competences’ – and the adoption of our standards that, most simply expressed, involve putting the historic environment first. All Affiliates have the potential to become full members of the IHBC, they only need to do the work, and some featured here already have the requisite skills in place, as Nikhil proves. Our Affiliates show how the sector’s specialised skills and training are evolving, and the conclusion may be drawn that it may be, if anything, more difficult to prescribe a single route to professional conservation in the future. Certainly, the IHBC is working towards greater precision in defining the skills of a professional working in a specific role, notably by examining the skills base of the conservation officer or equivalent adviser on historic buildings. However, in line with the lessons of our Affiliates, our understanding of a conservation professional increasingly recognises just how broad the range of skills and depth of knowledge must be to secure our core charitable goal, historic environment conservation. Mike Lea, membership@ihbc.org.uk Seán O’Reilly, director@ihbc.org.uk IHBC Members, Affiliates and other delegates visiting the Royal William Yard in Plymouth during the 2006 Annual School