In 2013, the Scottish Council on Archives launched a three-year traineeship scheme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Skills for the Future programme.

The Opening Up Scotland’s Archives scheme was created to provide opportunities for individuals to gain experience working in archives, in addition to the more traditional degree and post-graduate qualification route.  At the same time a sister scheme, Transforming Archives, was launched in England and Wales by The National Archives of the United Kingdom.

Archives across Scotland have hosted trainees for a year at a time, working on projects in digital preservation, outreach and traditional archive skills.  For the past year, NRS hosted two digital preservation trainees, Penny Wright and Ruth Marr, who have been developing practical tools to assist Scottish local authorities in getting started in digital preservation.

On Tuesday 15th August the Scottish Council on Archives held an celebratory event at NRS to say a fond farewell to the trainees from all three years of the scheme.

This event began with a look at the legacy of Opening Up Scotland’s Archives and Transforming Archives, which included 56 trainees in total – 19 of them in Scotland.

Intended as a way to attract entrants to the archives sector from more diverse backgrounds, 50% of trainees had a history or an arts degree, while the other half come from a range of backgrounds including engineering, jewellery-making, TV production, computing, dance and the travel industry.

4% of Scottish trainees came from a black, Asian and minority ethnic background, while the figure in England and Wales was 21%.  The scheme has been hailed as a success in broadening diversity in the archives sector and in meeting key skills gaps.

In the afternoon Catriona Doyle, a trainee from Year Two and now Archives and Collections Assistant at Glasgow School of Art, explained how the skills and experience she gained during her traineeship consolidated her interests in working in archives and helped her to move on to the next stage of her career.  Catriona, who studied jewellery and metal design at art school, undertook an outreach project with GSA and Glasgow City Archives to promote their collections to community groups.

Catriona’s presentation was followed by short talks from the six Year-Three trainees on their projects.  You can find out about all the traineeships here.

Following a short talk by Tim Ellis, Keeper of the Records of Scotland, the Year Three trainees were presented with certificates of achievement by Beltus Ojong Etchu, HLF Committee member for Scotland.

In November 2016, Opening Up Scotland’s Archives and Transforming Archives won the Digital Preservation Coalition’s Digital Preservation Award for Teaching and Communication, sponsored by the Dutch Coalition on Digital Preservation.  The Scottish Council on Archives decided to use the cash prize to fund an award for the best trainee digital project in Scotland over the three year scheme.

The award was announced at the end of the farewell event.  Third place went to Michael MacKinnon for his project working with the Robin Marwick Albion Rovers Football Club collection at North Lanarkshire Archives.

The prize was won jointly by NRS’s own Ruth and Penny, pictured below with their projects manager Susan Corrigall, as well as Deputy Keeper Laura Mitchell and Keeper Tim Ellis.

Trainees photo

Ruth and Penny’s projects have been heartily welcomed by local authorities in Scotland, and we are very proud of what they have achieved.  The tools that they have created will be published on NRS’s website for public comment soon.

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