|Great Bath looking north easterly towards Bath Abbey|
The findings of the report and the reasons for the decline are numerous, although not always negative. They range from increased funding pressures and a reduction of the amount available for grants, to contractors having a limited knowledge of traditional building materials and methods. This has led to a culture where a greater level of commitment is given to new builds, with many training providers simply perceiving a lack of demand for specialist heritage training.
The report reveals three years of changes to the heritage sector and a greater emphasis has been placed on training, with new initiatives attempting to provide solutions to the problems. For example, the development of new training qualifications to entice younger people to the profession. These include a new Heritage Skills NVQ Level 3 and a Heritage Apprenticeship Programme. Furthermore, NHTG continues to work with English Heritage in establishing a Works and Training Contract Framework that can be used across the built heritage sector.
In the six years since the original report, there have been clear improvements with notably better recruitment practices and more effective careers and qualifications in marketing. However, the skills gap remains, with only one third of the workforce using traditional building materials and many still requiring retraining. Nonetheless, there is a concerted effort within the heritage sector to reset the balance and provide and maintain a workforce that has the skills and knowledge to authentically preserve our historical buildings, not just for us but for future generations.
Matthew Hulm - Collections Volunteer