Development, supply, deployment, demand: Balancing the museum digital skills ecosystem. First findings of the ‘One by One’ national digital literacy project
conference contributionposted on 05.07.2018, 12:24 by Ross Parry, Doris Ruth Eikhof, Sally-Anne Barnes, Erika Kispeter
Skills matter. The digital literacy of the workforce remains one of the key challenges for the adoption of technology within museums (NMC, 2015; 2016). According to Nesta, the AHRC and ACE (2014; 2015), over a third of museums in England still feel that they do not have the in-house skills to meet their digital aspirations, and rather than improving, some digital skills areas have decreased. The latest findings (Nesta and ACE, 2017) report a "lack of confidence" as a barrier—more so than the cultural sector as a whole. Addressing this pressing issue, the aim of the UK’s "One by One" national project, is to work over the next two years to understand how to deliver a transformative framework for museum workforce digital literacy. This paper is the first sharing, internationally, of the emerging findings of the initial phase of the "One by One" research. Combining museology with leading-edge employment studies, the paper attempts to evidence the development, supply, demand, and deployment of digital skills in the UK museum sector, identifying key actors and mapping typical employment patterns and skills policies. The paper shares how digital skills are currently developed and recruited, how demand is articulated, what skills gaps exist, and what challenges impede skill development and deployment. Furthermore, it explores the shift from "technical skills" to "digital literacies" — what this shift represents, and the facilitators and inhibitors related to this shift that are recognized within the sector.