Archaeologists from around the EU – come and work for us!

Archaeologists from around the EU – come and work for us!

Over the last 18 months the number of infrastructure projects in the pipeline has increased significantly. We are finding once again that many of our experienced archaeologists, as well as support staff, are coming from overseas. On some sites over 70% of the field team are from overseas EU member states; at present the majority are from southern Europe, primarily Italy and Spain.

Developer-led archaeology is a very people-focused sector where managers constantly balance the requirements of core work with that of the larger infrastructure projects. At Headland we call these mega-projects ‘elephants’ – very large and very unpredictable but we have to be able to catch and accommodate one when it appears on the horizon. They require us to be flexible enough to scale up and down whilst retaining the skills and expertise to manage the challenges of both core and elephant projects as they arrive.

The ups and downs of staffing needs have traditionally been facilitated by a pool of archaeologists who ‘work the circuit’ transferring from project to project across the country as the larger projects come and go. It is a great way to get a lot of experience very quickly, both archaeological and commercial, and as an employer we look to offer better contracts to people with potential wherever possible.

Before the recession of 2009 Headland managed up to 300 staff in the field on multiple road schemes in the UK and Ireland. Many of the site team at that time came from Poland with others from Scandinavia, Germany and Greece. Several are now permanent Headland employees in positions across all parts of the company from managers to specialists.

We find our employees who have travelled from their home countries amongst our most motivated and with a drive that has taken them out of their comfort zones; negotiating hurdles such as CSCS tests, National Insurance numbers and finding accommodation – all in a second language. We hope that our relationship with our European colleagues will continue long into the future, without them we will simply not have the staff to deliver on some of the major projects on the horizon and suspect that many other parts of the construction industry will feel exactly the same.