ARA Officer’s Day – Alicia Chilcott

On the 8th October, ARA held it’s Officer’s Day at Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music. This was a day for representatives from each of the ARA regions and sections to meet and update one another on current work. As a fairly new addition to the Section for New Professionals committee, I found this really useful for getting up to speed on current priorities and developments across ARA.


Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester. Image source: RNCM website.

After the important business of tea and biscuits had been settled, the day began with some brief introductions and updates from some of the staff and Board. This included Jon Elliott, Head of Public Affairs; Hazel Menton, Special Groups and Sections; Stephen Scarth, Nations and Regions; Karl Magee, Chair of the Board; Adrian Steel, Membership; and Kevin Bolton, Diversity.

Caroline Williams then gave an overview of the recent north west workforce skills audit, which surveyed record-keeping professionals in the north west to identify skills needs to inform future training provision. This revealed that digital and regulatory skills training are most in demand.

Next, Karl Magee outlined ARA’s current strategic aims and business plan. In particular, Karl discussed the Glasgow Manifesto, a document currently in development aiming to capture the spirit of ARA Conference 2018 discussions committing the sector to being an agent for change, improving access to the profession, and supporting record-keepers. You can follow #ARAGlasgowManifesto on Twitter for updates on this.


The smiley faces of SfNP committee members Alex, Rosie, Alicia and Fahema.

On the much-discussed (and feared!) topic of GDPR, Jon Elliott outlined ARA’s current work in developing a code of practice and advocating for improvements to and greater clarity in the law with regard to archives. Jon emphasised that personal data in archival records is exempt from GDPR, unless it has potential to cause ‘substantial damage or distress’ to the data subject – but this is not clearly defined in the law. Personal data in the administrative records of archives should be treated the same as in any other organisation. Jon suggested that poor records management and operational failure are key risks to GDPR compliance and that any decision making regarding personal data should be recorded.

Andrea Waterhouse then presented about the recent Pay Review, which offers salary recommendations for those working in archives, records management or conservation at varying levels from para-professional to senior management. The recommendations offer a valuable tool for professionals negotiating pay with prospective or current employers. Andrea said that the review emerged out of frustration with many people being unable to enter or forced out of the sector due to unlivable low wages. The Review does not offer explicit pay recommendations for trainees, apprentices or interns, but may be used to establish an appropriate salary range by mapping skill levels and the nature of work against the professional levels included.

The day concluded with the Chief Executive’s update from John Chambers, followed by an advice clinic for officers. John highlighted some recent key developments across ARA, including the development of emotional support training and guidelines; the updated Code of Ethics, which will be regularly reviewed and updated; plans for ARA Conference 2019 in Leeds; the new archives card, due to be launched in April 2019; the new CPD programme; and the Research, Development and Advocacy Fund. John concluded by thanking the over 450 volunteers who run ARA and facilitate all this great work.

Alicia Chilcott, Publicity Officer, ARA

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