Museum Futures, an initiative to invest in a new, diverse generation of museum professionals, has announced the second cohort of partner museums for 2020 across the UK. A three-year programme supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and managed by the British Museum, Museum Futures gives 18–24-year olds from a range of backgrounds, and without degrees or prior museum experience, the opportunity of paid training for a year. This training enables them to pursue a career in the museum and heritage sector that might have otherwise been unattainable.

Receiving on-the-job training in digital skills at UK partner museums, trainees also work towards a Level 3 diploma in Cultural Heritage to boost their learning throughout the year. Trainees further benefit from support of a trained mentor working within the sector, monthly training sessions at the partner museums and experience working on digital skills-based projects related to museum collections.

Partner museums participating in Museum Futures 2020 are: Birmingham Museums Trust, Bristol Culture/South West Museum Development, Derby Museums, Hastings Museum & Art Gallery, Horniman Museum and Gardens, Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museum, Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and the British Museum.

Currently in its first year of a three-year programme, Museum Futures will benefit a total of 27 trainees by its end in 2021. Projects from 2019 include 3D imaging and projections at York Museum, editing the official podcast at the British Museum to launching a new software to help digitally preserve archives in Somerset. The current 2019 trainees will be completing their placements in December and are beginning to think about opportunities available to them inside the museum sector.

Taster days will be held at each venue this autumn allowing prospective trainees a relaxed and informal insight into the traineeship and the varied job roles available in the museums. Applications are now open for each partner museum and will close in October 2019. As a positive action traineeship, the British Museum will work with partners to establish target audiences for recruitment that benefit the diversity profile of their museum.

Candidates without formal qualifications, those that live in the local area to the museum (rural or urban areas depending on the museum), candidates lacking any previous museum experience and those who are underrepresented in the museum sector (for example, candidates who are black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME), from lower socio-economic backgrounds and/or with a disability) are particularly encouraged to apply. Trainees will be recruited locally by their host museum, with each role description and project bespoke to that partner museum. Museum Futures Trainees for 2020 will begin placements in January.

Naomi Salinas-Burton, Museum Futures Programme Manager, said: “Museum Futures is a fantastic mechanism for young people to overcome barriers that might have prevented them from working in a museum or even considering the heritage sector as a career option. Likewise, partner museums benefit from the work of trainees, especially the new perspectives, digital confidence, and fresh ideas that talented young adults can bring.”

Lois Garrod-Smith, current trainee at Museum of East Anglian Life, stated: “The highlight of my traineeship so far has been visiting the other museums participating in the programme. It is very humbling to have the opportunity to gain access to places that people in the sector have waited for years to visit. These past few months have really shown me that leaders in the sector do want a change from the traditional methods of employment into museums, which is really encouraging for our programme and for my future.”

Mitch Hudson, current trainee at Norfolk Museums Service says: “I feel that taking part in Museum Futures is a big achievement for me, as I previously was unsure of what direction to go in heritage, let alone having the confidence to work in it. I am looking forward to completing my project and seeing what the future holds once I start applying for roles in the heritage sector. At the moment, I do have concerns that not possessing a degree in a relevant field to museum-based job might be a barrier to further employment in the sector. Once I have completed my traineeship, I will be more confident on taking my next course of action, whether that be getting a job in the sector, going to university to acquire a degree or pursuing a job outside of the sector using the skills I have gained this year.”

Tasha Brown, current trainee at Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove, said: “I feel very lucky to be taking part in Museum Futures. I started in the sector in January without a degree and having had no previous experience but harbouring a passion to work in museums. I get on-the-job training for a year and don’t have the looming pressure of tuition fees.”

Stuart Hobley, Area Director London & South, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, this programme is giving young people the skills and opportunity they otherwise may not have had, to pursue careers in the heritage sector. A benefit of course to those involved, but also incredibly valuable for museums across the UK which will gain new ideas, fresh perspectives and a future workforce that better represents communities.”