Construction industry launches scheme to fill heritage skills gap

A
lack of skilled workmen threatens the UK’s historical buildings, according to
the National Heritage Training Group (NHTG).

The
NHTG and the sector skills council for the construction industry
(ConstructionSkills) are launching a new programme called ‘Building On The
Past: Training For The Future’, to tackle the severe skills shortages in the
traditional crafts sector within the construction industry.

Under
the plans, the NHTG and ConstructionSkills will carry out a detailed UK-wide
survey to establish the regional and country-wide variations in skills
shortages and training provision. They will also develop and implement a
traditional building crafts skills training plan for England, Scotland, Wales
and Northern Ireland.

There
are fewer than 40,000 people in the UK skilled in the traditional building
conservation crafts, and there are nearly 430,000 listed buildings in England
alone.

The
NHTG said the historic built environment was rich and diverse, contributing to
our quality of life and benefiting our economy and education, but traditional
skills passed down through the generations, such as stone masonry, fibrous
plastering and lead sheet working, are dying out.

Andrew
McIntosh, minister for the media and heritage, said: "Without these skills
our aspiration to unlock the potential of the historic environment as a
powerful social and economic driver will crumble along with our heritage
itself."

ConstructionSkills
was formed in September after the Construction Industry Training Board and the
Construction Industry Council won approval to jointly act as a sector skills
council.

By Michael Millar

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