Chances and ambitions: the future of young talent in heritage

At the Annual Dutch National Conference on Monuments, an interesting presentation highlighted the preliminary findings of the research project on “Chances and Ambitions for Young Talent in Heritage.” Ordered by the newly founded Stichting Next Gen Heritage, the project aims to explore the integration of young professionals into the Dutch heritage sector, addressing contemporary challenges such as the implications of ageing of many professionals active in heritage, and the Faro Convention.

This presentation at the Dutch National Monuments Conference shed light on the crucial need for the heritage sector to adapt and evolve, embracing the talents and energies of young professionals. The findings from “Chances and Ambitions for Young Talent in Heritage” set the stage for future developments and strategic changes in the sector.

Key Areas of the Research
The research, which is a part of the broader initiative by the Stichting Next Generation Heritage focuses on three critical aspects:

  1. Labor Market Overview: The first part of the presentation detailed the diverse nature of the heritage sector, including the differences in chains and organizational structures like in built and green heritage, archaeology, archives, and museums. Each segment has unique needs in education and faces different kinds of shortages like manual labor or administrative positions.

    But the research also shows that, at least in the Netherlands, heritage is becoming a more and more integral part of bigger processes, like city planning or the battle against climate change. Thus heritage workers, especially those who work in the public sector, increasingly spend their time in multidisciplinary environments and require different skills and different combinations of experience and knowledge.

  2. Youth Perspectives and Aspirations: The presentation zoomed into the findings related to higher education students in heritage fields. It showed students have a very strong commitment to heritage, and is coupled to their active engagement with societal issues close to them, ranging from climate change, housing shortages, to the need for diversity.

    Despite their enthusiasm and ambition to bring change to the sector, there’s a clear disconnect between these young aspirants and the current state of the heritage sector. Students often perceive a lack of visible job opportunities, internships, and traineeships in the field. “We don’t notice at all that the sector needs young people”, one of the respondents said.

  3. Ideal work environment
    In the same vein, the ideal work environment as defined by young professionals in the heritage sector, is characterized by small and agile organizations. These organizations are prized for their flexibility and their commitment to making a positive contribution to the future. Such workplaces are seen as innovative learning environments, where young professionals can grow and develop their skills.

    Emphasis is also placed on teamwork within these organizations, where young professionals feel that their contributions are taken seriously and their voices are heard and valued. This preference highlights a clear shift towards a more dynamic, inclusive, and forward-thinking approach in the workplace.

  4. Sector’s Current State and Challenges: The final part of the presentation addressed how the heritage sector has been operating. While it has seen success in the past decade, the presentation suggested that the sector might be overlooking the need to actively adapt to the changing society and the ambitions of the younger generation. The mission for the sector is to reevaluate its practices and develop, as a community, new strategies to integrate young talent effectively.

Implications and Future Directions
The presentation stressed the need for the heritage sector to become more accessible and appealing to young professionals. This involves tailoring jobs to their career aspirations and creating a more flexible environment but also adapting them to fit the evolving needs of jobs that are increasingly becoming integral part of more complex processes.

Call for Collaborative Efforts
Concluding the presentation, foundation director Herbert-Jan Hiep invited stakeholders in the heritage sector from government, industry and educational backgrounds, to collaborate with the Stichting Next Generation Heritage to create pilot projects. These should explore new forms of multidisciplinary and intergeneration cooperation within a learning-on-the-job-type environment. The foundation aims to create a heritage sector that is innovative, inclusive, and aligned with the interests of the next generation, ensuring its vitality and relevance in the modern world.

Contact Herbert-Jan Hiep at

This article was originally published in English. Texts in other languages are AI-translated. To change language: go to the main menu above.