Stone masons conserving Marsden Lime Kilns.
Stone masons conserving Marsden Lime Kilns. © Historic England (DP169821)
Stone masons conserving Marsden Lime Kilns. © Historic England (DP169821)

Historic England and the Hamish Ogston Foundation Join Forces on a New Major Skills Programme

A £3.5 million pledge from the Hamish Ogston Foundation to Historic England will fund a major in-work training and apprenticeships programme, helping to ensure that the craft and trade skills needed to repair and maintain historic buildings are passed on to future generations.

The programme aims to help address a long-standing and severe skills shortage in the construction industry, particularly in the heritage sector where expertise in essential crafts such as bricklaying, carpentry and joinery, painting and decorating, plastering, roofing and stonemasonry are at risk of being lost with consequences for England’s pre-1919 historic buildings.

Research shows that around 90% of companies that carry out repairs and maintenance to historic buildings consider themselves ‘general construction’ firms. Yet evidence suggests that due to a lack of traditional building skills in the construction industry, inappropriate and often more modern methods and materials are creating problems on pre-1919 properties.

The programme will bring the public and private sectors together to provide training for craftspeople to learn their trade at critical points in their career, acquiring valuable skills and knowledge. Apprentices will also be given the opportunity to work at Heritage at Risk sites in the North of England, gaining solid practical experience while helping to rescue some of the country’s most valued historic buildings and places.

The Hamish Ogston Foundation’s funding is needed more than ever with the added pressures and uncertainties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Specially-commissioned research is currently underway to understand the market for heritage apprenticeships in the North of England’s construction industry for those working on historic buildings, and will shape the nature of the programme to ensure it achieves maximum positive impact.

We are delighted to be partnering Historic England as funders on this major initiative. Our intention is to help create sustainable jobs at a time of great pressure and real need, both for people and buildings.

I am confident that this significant investment will create a flow of high-quality, hands-on apprenticeships that will lead to rewarding careers, help keep alive the skills needed to preserve our historic buildings and make a positive difference for heritage at risk.

Hamish Ogston

We are incredibly grateful to the Hamish Ogston Foundation for their generous and timely support which will provide current and future craft workers with the knowledge, skills and hands-on experience they need to repair, maintain and conserve the vast number of historic buildings across England.

Old buildings are an important part of our rich heritage but they need specialist care and professionals with certain skills, currently in short supply.

With this funding from the Hamish Ogston Foundation we will bring the heritage sector and construction industry closer together to tackle the current skills and knowledge gap, while providing trainees and apprentices with work based training and employment opportunities.

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive Historic England

Further details about the programme will be made available in 2021.

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