£5.2m funding award will help tackle traditional skills shortage

An award of £5.2m from UK charity, the Hamish Ogston Foundation to Historic Environment Scotland (HES) will fund a new traditional skills training programme, giving a much-needed boost to the specialist skills needed to conserve and maintain Scotland’s historic built environment.

Over the course of five years, Craft Your Career will support vital skills training to 100 people across Scotland. This will include 60 pre-apprenticeship training places, focusing on introductory construction and employability skills, initially delivered in partnership with Fife Council, Fife College and The Ridge social enterprise in East Lothian.  

The next phase of the programme will fund 16 new apprenticeships throughout the country, covering trades such as stonemasons, joiners, plasterers, roofers, electricians, painters and decorators.

The funding will also enable the expansion of HES’s existing Craft Fellowship programme, providing the opportunity for 24 people to work with master craftspeople to learn specific areas of traditional building skills, from traditional joinery and stone carving to millwrighting and blacksmithing.

Craft Your Career is a unique opportunity to increase accessibility to heritage skills and careers in Scotland, and will allow HES to work with a wider range of partners across the sector than ever before to build capacity for traditional skills training.

Traditional buildings are a significant feature of Scotland’s built environment, comprising around 20% of the nation’s housing stock. Ensuring a continuing supply of the specialist skills required to conserve and maintain these buildings is vital, not least for the important contribution the repair, reuse and retrofit of historic assets can make to reducing carbon emissions and achieving national net-zero targets. In offering a more sustainable alternative to building new, these traditional buildings, skills and materials contribute to a circular economy which supports green jobs and boosts local supply chains.   

Karyn McGhee, Technical Conservation Training Manager at HES, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with the Hamish Ogston Foundation and are very grateful for this significant funding award. This project is a unique opportunity to enhance the delivery and provision of our traditional skills training, help address the current skills shortage and provide new training opportunities across the country – providing a crucial boost to both the sector and the wider economy.

“The historic environment can make a huge difference to people’s lives by offering rewarding and sustainable careers. Within the heritage sector there are a huge variety of diverse skills, jobs and career pathways available, and it is important that we champion these and make them as accessible as possible.

“Our traditional buildings also have a significant role to play in tackling the climate emergency and meeting national net-zero targets, and this new programme will help ensure that our historic buildings, and the specialist traditional skills needed to maintain them, can thrive into the future.  

“We look forward to working with the Foundation and partners across the sector as we embark on this exciting programme.”

Robert Bargery, Heritage Project Director of the Hamish Ogston Foundation, said: “We’re proud to be launching this new programme with Historic Environment Scotland which will help address the heritage skills deficit in Scotland and provide sustainable employment for the heritage champions of the future. Scotland is home to some of the UK’s greatest historical buildings and this new partnership with HES will help secure the future of these buildings to ensure they can be enjoyed by generations to come.”

This grant to Historic Environment Scotland is part of a wider £29 million investment into heritage skills training in the UK and the Commonwealth which the Hamish Ogston Foundation Foundation is announcing today. The new funding will also support heritage skills training programmes in partnership with English Heritage, the Commonwealth Heritage Forum and the Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship.  

The Hamish Ogston Foundation has now pledged nearly £44 million towards heritage skills training since its establishment in 2019. It is the largest single private donor to heritage skills training in the UK and is now committed to support the training of more than 3,300 conservation trainees in the UK and Commonwealth.

Historic Environment Scotland is the lead body for Scotland’s historic environment, a charity dedicated to the advancement of heritage, culture, education and environmental protection. It is at the forefront of researching and understanding the historic environment and addressing the impact of climate change on its future, investigating and recording architectural and archaeological sites and landscapes across Scotland and caring for more than 300 properties of national importance.

For more information, visit the HES website.


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