Traditional heritage skills to be saved through new apprenticeship programme

Published: 15th July 2021

A pioneering £4.3 million, five-year programme to help address long-term and severe heritage skills shortages in the construction sector 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 an 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 valuable contributions to the restoration of some of the country’s most precious historic buildings, such as Grade I listed Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire. 

Applications for heritage building skills Apprenticeships are being accepted now until midnight on July 18th, 2021. To find out more, please visit Historic England's Apprenticeships website page here.

There will be 40 training opportunities over the next five years with Historic England, with five Apprentices being recruited now.

To encourage take-up of the Apprenticeship programme, Historic England will be working with further education colleges, including The Sheffield College, 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.

Without intervention now, these crucial skills are at risk of being lost forever with grave consequences for England’s pre-1919 historic buildings. 

Participants will be able to learn their trade at critical points in their career, acquiring important skills and knowledge.

Historic England hopes that this five-year scheme will attract a future workforce to the heritage sector that represents the diversity of this country. 

The focus is on testing this new training model and repairing buildings at risk, giving trainees an opportunity to learn their trade while ensuring a future for some of England’s most important buildings. 

The long-term ambition is to expand the scheme across the country, leading to more people in rewarding and vital careers in heritage construction.  

The apprentices will attend four-to-six-week summer schools at nationally significant Heritage at Risk sites such as Wentworth Woodhouse, starting in the summer of 2022. 

Hamish Ogston CBE of the Hamish Ogston  Foundation, said: “It gives me a huge sense of fulfilment to make this investment in a project that I am confident will make a real difference to people’s life chances, setting them on a path to sustainable, satisfying jobs. What could be more satisfying than giving a future to our past through hands-on work to conserve the great buildings that are one of our nation’s greatest assets? Part of my confidence comes from our partnership with Historic England, which has a track record of first-rate delivery and implementation. Together we will help supply the high-level practical skills that our built heritage needs if it is to survive and flourish.”

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.”

Caroline Dinenage, Heritage Minister, 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.”

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