Academic-CRM Industry Synergy: Education and Training

01/28/2019 10:36 AM | Duane Peter


I have been leading an ongoing ACRA Task Force focused on “promoting synergy between the academy and the CRM industry” for the past year.  The Task Force, consisting of academic and CRM industry professionals, decided that it would promote collaboration in pursuit of two key objectives:  Research/Data Access and Education.  Collaboration between academic professionals and those working within the CRM industry is not new; neither is it well established. Much work remains to encourage increased collaboration. Communication is essential for increasing collaboration between academic professionals and those working within the CRM industry. Neither side fully understands the constraints and/or opportunities under which the other operates. In the first post of this series, I am going to focus on the education and training of future CRM employees.

Task Force discussions revealed that academic departments have significant constraints related to curricula.  Departments can provide only a limited number of courses; the addition of any course most likely requires the removal of another course.  Presenting industry needs to administrative officials would also likely be unproductive; rather, our industry needs to find faculty members who would champion additional courses or new programs that meet the needs of our industry. 

On the other hand, academic professionals perceive that our industry has significant funds to financially support educational programs and internships.  This may be the case for a limited number of firms, but for the average small firm, funds are dedicated to employee benefits and the long-term financial welfare of the owner.  Industry support of training through internships is a more viable option; however, academic professionals need to understand that workload and contracts are not always conducive to the support of internships.  Nevertheless, our industry needs to evaluate if we are doing enough to support the training of future employees.

A recent survey conducted by Dr. Karen Larkin of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and Ms. Michelle Slaughter of Metcalf Archaeological Consultants, Inc. (“Bridging the Gap Between CRM and Academia: Training Future Archaeologists – A Potential Model” 2018 ACRA Conference) indicates that academic professionals and CRM industry managers have very different views of how well prepared undergraduates (BA degree and field school) are for CRM employment.  Continued conversations regarding industry needs and how academic professionals might meet those needs are necessary.

Given the disparity between the perceptions of academic and industry professionals, the Task Force has proposed the following courses of action:

  1. ACRA will develop a synopsis of skill sets needed by industry. Although a SAA publication regarding skills needed for the 21st century is a starting point, a survey of current industry needs will be necessary.
  2. ACRA will communicate needs of industry to academic professionals through national meeting venues and advocates within specific departments.
  3. ACRA will encourage industry support of student training (internships, independent studies) through conferences and newsletters.
  4. ACRA will showcase  both PhD and MA-level programs that are meeting CRM industry needs in exemplary ways. The initial concept is to have institutions provide synopses of how they are meeting industry needs through a special section in The SAA Archaeological Record and other outlets available via SHA, NCPE, and ACRA.

The Task Force would like you to think about the following:

  • What other actions do you think we should consider?
  • Do you think that undergraduates are well prepared for work in your firm?
  • Do you think that there is more we can be doing to support the training of our future employees?

Let us know your thoughts on these questions in the comments.


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