Online Webinar Lecture: Fixed Term Contracts and Your Long Term Career
Emma Nichols, Book and Paper Conservator, Cambridge University Library
To: Thursday 20.06.19
Free for Icon members
£5 for non-Icon members
In recent years, cuts and financial pressures on institution budgets have left a lack of funding for permanent positions nationwide. This seems to have hit the conservation profession particularly hard, leading to a rapid increase of institutions relying on fixed-term/temporary contracts and external funding to carry out projects and provide them with conservators.
Fixed-term contracts are something that many of us will experience at some point in our working lives. This may be particularly so for newly qualified conservators early in their professional careers, who eager for experience are the most likely to be found in fixed-term work.
Though a solution to a problem, fixed-term contracts can pose challenges for both employee and employer that are less prevalent with permanent positions. Some such challenges are professional development; the ability to rent accommodation if a contract is less than a year; disparities in pay; and as shown by a report by the Institute of Public Policy Research in 2017, a negative impact on mental health.
These challenges, coupled with the prevalence of fixed-term contracts, mean it is imperative that effort is made to make them as successful and sustainable as possible. This is for both the good of the individual and the continued success, development and longevity of the conservation profession.
The idea for exploring this topic in a presentation first came to Book and Paper Conservator Emma Nichols in 2016 as she approached her fourth year in fixed term contracts. She felt the subject of fixed term contracts was often met with awkwardness. This may be likely due to the anxiety felt by those employed on them, and the empathy and frustration of employers forced to hire staff on fixed term contracts instead of permanent ones by an unstable financial climate. Out of a desire to get the conversation started and find solutions and support, this presentation was born.
The talk begins with Emma reflecting on her own fixed term contracts and discussing the challenges, rewards and lessons she has learnt from them. The second part of the talk shares the experiences, thoughts and suggestions of other UK based conservators on fixed term contracts, which Emma collected by a confidential questionnaire. Though the talk discusses the challenges fixed term work can produce the main message is one of positivity and support and hopes to help all those impacted by fixed term work, whether employee, employer or student of conservation.