£4.3m programme to address severe heritage skills shortages

Alice Eaton, trainee stonemason © Alice Eaton

A £4.3m five-year programme to address severe heritage skills shortages in the construction sector has been launched

The programme to save heritage skills has been announced by The Hamish Ogston Foundation and Historic England.

The grant is the largest one-off investment ever awarded to heritage construction training in England. It will fund in-work heritage skills and apprenticeship scheme, which aims to increase expertise in essential crafts such as bricklaying, carpentry and joinery, painting and decorating, plastering, roofing and stonemasonry.

Apprentices will work alongside Historic England experts at sites in the North of England which are on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register. They will make contributions to the restoration of some of the country’s most precious historic buildings, such as Grade I listed Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire.

It will offer new pathways into heritage construction, from young people interested in a future in heritage construction to experienced professionals working in mainstream construction considering a move across to the heritage sector.

‘Skilled, sustainable jobs’

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Hamish Ogston Foundation on this ground-breaking programme.

“As life moves closer to normality again, this is an exciting employment and heritage skills training opportunity for young people starting their careers and for professionals in the construction industry looking for a rewarding change.

“This programme will inspire others by making a huge contribution towards saving some of England’s most important historic buildings.”

Heritage minister Caroline Dinenage, added: “This brilliant new programme will get young people into skilled, sustainable jobs, and will also help to restore our country’s precious heritage.

“I am thrilled that funding has been provided for these apprenticeships and I look forward to seeing their impact on our historic buildings.”

To encourage take-up of the apprenticeship programme, Historic England will be working with Further Education colleges and small heritage construction companies to recruit people in the core building trades of bricklaying, carpentry and joinery, painting and decorating, plastering, roofing and stonemasonry. Training providers include Cheshire College South and West, Hopwood Hall College, Leeds College of Building, New College Durham, The Sheffield College and York College.

Applications for heritage building skills apprenticeships are open from 30 June 2021. There will be 40 training opportunities over the next five years with five apprentices being recruited now.

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