Major new partnership to boost construction skills for heritage

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has joined forces with the Welsh Government’s Historic Environment Service (Cadw), Historic England and Historic Environment Scotland in a landmark partnership.

The ‘Strategic Skills Partnership Agreement’ was signed on Friday (24 March 2017) at a launch at Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings in Shropshire.

This Agreement and Action Plan will help ensure the construction industry is equipped with the knowledge, understanding and skills for the continued and sustainable use of traditional building stock, benefiting the economy and communities across the home nations.

There are over 6.5 million traditional buildings (pre-1919) across England, Scotland and Wales. They make up a significant proportion of construction in Great Britain and form a substantial source of demand for work for contractors.

The four partners will work towards integrating the knowledge and skills for working traditional buildings into mainstream construction training –by:

  • Supporting the reform of Further Education and apprenticeships to meet the needs of the heritage construction sector and boost apprenticeship numbers
  • Increasing the uptake of training related to traditional buildings leading to qualifications to match the individual’s skill level
  • Supporting employers to attract and retain people by setting out opportunities and entry routes that exist within the heritage construction sector.

Mark Noonan, Industry Relations Director for CITB, said:

“This is a milestone agreement and one that is crucial to ensuring we have the right skills in place to conserve, repair and maintain our traditional building stock.

“We want young people to see that you can have a great career working with traditional buildings. Indeed, our current Apprentice of the Year, Sophie Turner, is a stonemason who learnt her trade working on a medieval church.

“Together with Cadw, Historic England and Historic Environment Scotland, we want many more young people to follow in her footsteps and help preserve these fantastic buildings for future generations to enjoy.”

Chris Smith, Director of Planning at Historic England said:

“We are looking forward to working together to support the reform of apprenticeships to meet the needs of the heritage construction sector and boost apprenticeship numbers via the new Trailblazers in England. Amongst other things, Historic England will be delivering on the action plan by offering training opportunities on the forthcoming repair project at Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).”

Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, said:

“I welcome this agreement and opportunity to work in partnership to deliver a shared vision for a well trained and qualified workforce in a profitable construction industry. I’m particularly keen to see the skills necessary to work on traditional, pre-1919 buildings integrated in mainstream construction training and for the long-term economic value of planned building maintenance and responsible energy efficiency retrofit to be better promoted across the board.”

Dr David Mitchell Director of Conservation, Historic Environment Scotland said:

“I am delighted to sign this agreement and confirm our partnership with CITB and our fellow heritage bodies. Access to knowledge, skills and materials are at the heart of ensuring that our traditional buildings continue to contribute to the sustainable growth of our economies. This agreement will ensure that we work together to help our colleagues in the construction industry equip themselves with the skills required to take our traditional buildings in to the future.”