Heritage building skills gap

The future of England’s historic buildings could be at risk as the heritage workforce lacks essential skills, according to two new studies. The reports, backed by ConstructionSkills and English Heritage, found that workers across the industry lack the skills and materials needed to do the job properly.

The NHTG (National Heritage Training Group) carried out the Traditional Building Craft Skills in England study which suggests that while the shortage of craftspeople has fallen by 3,000 since 2005, over two-thirds of repair and maintenance work is being done by

untrained or ill-equipped workers.

The second survey, the Built Heritage Sector Professionals study, examined the training of architects, engineers and those who specify, commission and oversee this maintenance work. Only 507 in England are building conservation accredited, which equates to one conservation trained engineer for every 276,000 historic structures.

Launched at The Prince of Wales’s Foundation for the Built Environment, the reports update the

2005 survey of the industry carried out by NTHG. Since then the sector has grown from £3.5 billion to £4.7 billion.

Peter Lobban, chief executive of ConstructionSkills, said: ‘We’ve taken some giant steps to ensure that 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 need upskilling to guarantee that tasks are completed to the highest possible standard and England’s iconic and more humble buildings are not spoilt.’

It is hoped that new on-site training schemes and qualifications will address the skills gap in the heritage building sector identified in two new reports.

Read more about the people keeping traditional rural crafts alive in Britain.

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