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Evaluation of the HLF-funded Heritage Horizons Programme

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The external summative evaluation of the Museums Galleries Scotland’s Heritage Horizon’s Traineeship Programme 2014-2016. Funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Skills for the Future grant, the Traineeship programme was designed to provide opportunities for 20 non-graduates to take part in a structured 12-month, work-based training programme which included an SVQ Level 3 qualification in Museums and Galleries Practice which was developed especially for the programme.

In developing Heritage Horizons, MGS aimed to provide an alternative route of entry into the museum sector for people who would not otherwise be able to pursue or consider a career in the sector. The programme aimed to address skills gaps, improve training resources, and diversify the workforce by encouraging applications from non-graduates who would not usually apply for posts in the sector.


  • The programme has had significant impacts on the trainees. They have benefitted from enhanced skills, increased confidence and employability, and the attainment of the newly developed SVQ Level 3 in Museums and Galleries Practice
  • The payment of a stipend was vital in enabling trainees to participate in the programme. The vast majority of participants told us that they would have been unable to participate without receiving a stipend
  • The impact of the programme on host organisations was considerable. The organisations experienced increased short-term capacity and trainees brought fresh insight, skills and experience. As a result, host organisations were able to attract and engage with new audiences, develop their use of new technologies and media and undertake new areas of work
  • Staff in host organisations also benefited through the broadening of their skills and experience, particularly in relation to management, which in some cases proved challenging. They had the opportunity to experience implementing and supporting vocational qualifications and to explore the potential for the SVQ to be further applied in their own organisations to develop staff and volunteers.
  • The programme has provided useful learning that can be used to inform a more comprehensive and strategic response to the issues of workforce development and widening access, which will be important for the museums galleries sector to consider in its future strategic planning.
  • It is likely that achieving a more significant shift in the sector’s attitudes towards diversifying the workforce will require a larger scale and more cohesive approach by both MGS and its stakeholders, but that does not detract from the significant achievements of this programme. Moving forward, there is a need for greater synergy in the sector between what its skills needs are, what it can offer to staff in relation to development opportunities, how recruitment practices need to be changed, and for a framework that demonstrates clearly where the SVQ sits in relation to other skills and qualifications needed by the sector

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Download Evaluation of the HLF Funded Heritage Horizons Programme (PDF, 1MB)
Published September 2016
Research Conducted By Blake Stevenson