LABOUR MARKET ARCHAEOLOGY
Many people know that I spend most of the last two decades finding worthwhile competitive jobs for people with various disabilities. They are somewhat surprized to learn that my degree is in archaeology instead of something like Social Work, Psychology or Political Science. “Why archaeology?” they ask. Then they ask, “What transferrable skills can an archaeologist have that could be of help in finding jobs?” and “Who in their right mind would hire an archaeologist to do this important work?” And “… that would be like hiring a plumber to take out my appendix.”
Actually, there are more similarities than differences. An archaeologist spends most of the time finding and excavating sites that were occupied by people who worked to stay alive hundreds to tens of thousands of years ago, and try to find information to answer questions about what that work might have been. Job Developers finds sites where people do work now, and try to get them to share.
But the similarities don’t end there. Here are three huge components of the jobs that make them virtually identical.
1. Where the sites are.
Before beginning archaeological excavations, archaeologists need to find the sites. They use contour maps, air photographs, and helicopter overviews, foot surveys and shovel tests to determine where the sites are – given that people need a reasonable proximity to potable water, food, and other resources. Shelter from the elements doesn’t hurt either.
Job developers use similar techniques. Land use maps can give me an idea of there industrial areas are. Sometimes I go there with my cell phone to take pictures of operations, then look up the companies on the Internet and often find job postings that way.
I also see what the environment can offer business – besides real estate. Saw mills and fish canneries often make good use of rivers and streams for raw material, but in some cases the they are trucked in. Sometimes economies of scale get in there to defy logic. By cross-docking logistics, however there are jobs there to be had.
2. Telling stories
Archaeologists love to tell stories. They love to show the general public how their present work adds to the cultural history of the area. In fact, telling stories generates interest in the discipline, and without interest, there will be no discipline. The public , in turn, loves to share in the mystery.
Job developers love to tell stories. I love to go to Boards of Trade and Chambers of Commerce to tell my stories. I don’t tell all the potential employers what I do. Rather I tell them what I did. I’ll tell success stories such as a story of how I helped a legal secretary who only typed 35 words per minute find work. (She did this by putting the keyboard on the floor and typed with her toes because she didn’t have any arms.) Business people will hear the stories and MIGHT think of me when it’s time to hire.
3. The excitement of the find.
Once, while working as an archaeologist, I was standing on a stack of buckets lashing a tripod when the buckets toppled over. My left foot landed in a bucket while my right foot became snagged on a fire hose. In an effort to regain balance, I took big steps to the edge of the pit. There I caught up to myself. Unfortunately the wall of the pit collapsed and I ended up at the bottom. I lost my balance and fell into the pit.
“Mike, stop showing off. Can’t you use the ladder. That’s what I built it for.” said the director. The crew wondered how I got my straw hat to hesitate mid air before floating down after me.
I felt a little guilty as I turned around and noticed a spoon carved out of a mountain goat horn. It was also carved in the of a mountain goat’s head. It was the find of the day.
The feeling of pride was worth my battle with gravity. I feel just as proud when a client gets a job.
Mike Broderick , a one- time archaeologist, is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellor with the Fraser Health Authority in Port Coquitlam where he helps people with mental health disabilities find and keep full or part time employment .
He WAS the Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he found employment for people with physical disabilities, A Supported Employment Coordinator at THEO BC (now the Open Door Group), and a case manager at Community Fisheries Development Centre where he helped people move from the fishing industry to something else because there, “Aint no fish.” This means he is VERY familiar with how a modern day resume should look.
He is an active ambassador with the Vancouver Board of Trade and a member of the Labour Task Force of the Burnaby Board of Trade He does some work as a field Archaeologist, is a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to Alive Magazine. He is always saying, “If you can’t be fit, you can at least be funny.”
He lives in Port Coquitlam with his spouse Cecelia. You can reach him at home at email@example.com or at 604-464-4105. If you’re looking for a career change, he is the Spin Doctor and can give you a resume makeover at competitive rates.