Skip to content

Museums Galleries Scotland’s vocational training programme secures National Lottery support

MGS has received a grant of £535k from the Heritage Lottery Fund to provide museum-based learning programmes for non-graduates across Scotland.

Museums Galleries Scotland’s vocational training programme secures National Lottery support

Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) has received a confirmed grant of £535,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) as part of the Skills for the Future programme. The MGS Skills for Success project will build the skills and confidence of 22 non-graduates from diverse backgrounds during a unique one year paid learning placement in museums across Scotland.

Getting a foot in the door of the museums sector can be difficult, with the traditional career path involving a degree followed by unpaid work experience. This project will offer an accessible route into the sector for 18 non-graduates, as well as 4 management level opportunities. Trainees will experience all aspects of museums work, from collections to volunteer management, and from marketing to delivering a learning programme. Along the way, they’ll also be completing a vocational qualification (SVQ3) in Museums and Galleries Practice.

Museums and galleries are focal points for communities, they protect Scotland’s cultural heritage and they tell the stories of Scotland’s people.  As such they have a duty to be accessible and appealing to audiences from all parts of society. MGS has developed an innovative new way of recruiting for the project. Assessment days will replace the traditional application process, and trainees will be selected based on personal qualities like creativity and collaboration rather than tertiary qualifications or how financially able they have been to undertake unpaid internships in the past. It is hoped that this approach will attract a diverse group of trainees, who will in turn bring vital new skills and ways of thinking into their host museums.

Joanne Orr, CEO of Museums Galleries Scotland, said:

“Starting out on my own museums career, it took 3 years of volunteering and short term contracts after completing my formal qualification before I landed my first paid role in a museum. This is a story that will be familiar to many in the sector. While the traditionally academic route into the sector still has a valuable place, MGS is committed to improving the diversity of Scotland’s museum workforce. This HLF funded project providing new and accessible entry points to the sector is a key aspect of this ambition.”

Lucy Casot, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, added:

 “The heritage sector is becoming more and more popular as a career option with demand for traineeships such as the Museums Galleries Scotland programme, exceedingly high. With this level of demand, it can be difficult for those not in higher education to get a foot in the door. The National Lottery is helping by providing opportunities for a diverse range of people, to pursue a career in heritage through work-placement training. Through initiatives such as this we can build a workforce which is representative of our communities and the museums’ audiences.”

This ambitious project is MGS’s fourth HLF funded Skills for the Future project. It follows two museum internship programmes for graduates, and the Heritage Horizon’s programme which provided a route into the museums sector for non-graduates. To date, 57 participants have gained properly paid experience through these programmes, in 35 different museums across Scotland. 87% of these have gone on to achieve employment, with roles in museums, volunteer management and beyond.  

Rebecca Smith, who participated in the 2013-2014 MGS Interns programme and is now Collections Management Assistant at the Hunterian, said:

“The experience and knowledge I gained in 12 months during my own internship […] provided me with the first step of what is turning into a successful career in museums, one which seemed unattainable before completing the internship.”

Applications for host museums are now open. Applications for trainees will open in May 2018. 

Published 29 January 2018