Old buildings need skilled craftsmen

The National Heritage Training Group says more thatchers, dry stone-wallers and stonemasons are needed to deal with building built before 1919.

The group suggests the shortage of craft workers has eased over recent years, but there still is a skills and knowledge gap.

Research reveals many people are finding it hard to locate joiners, roofers and carpenters, while satisfaction levels with repair work have declined ‘considerably.’

There are only 507 fully accredited conservation professionals in the UK from a base of half a million architects, engineers, surveyors and conservation officers. This is equivalent to one accredited surveyor to every 85,000 old buildings and one engineer to every 276,000.

Peter Lobban from industry group ConstructionSkills says, ‘We’ve taken giant steps to ensure more people are taking up these traditional building crafts that are so important to preserving the country’s heritage buildings.

‘But there is more work to do. Many of the people undertaking repair and maintenance work on pre-1919 buildings need upskilling to guarantee tasks are completed to the highest possible standards and England’s iconic and more humble buildings are not spoilt.’

The National Heritage Training Group and its partners say they will invest £1 million to help reduce the skills gap through various initiatives including encouraging qualifications and an apprenticeship programme.

The Group also plans to establish a mentoring scheme with experienced craftsmen passing on skills and expertise to less experienced practitioners.