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This blog is a behind the scenes look at the Roman Baths in Bath. We hope you enjoy reading our stories about life surrounding the Roman Baths.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Preserving Skills

Great Bath looking north easterly towards Bath Abbey
We all love the Roman Baths; the thrill and excitement of seeing, touching and experiencing one of our most treasured national monuments. Now try to imagine a future where no one has cared for its preservation and it has crumbled to dust, or makeshift repairs have defaced any reference to its historical significance. This issue appears to underline the research carried out by the National Heritage Training Group (NHTG) in 2008, not just for monuments such as the Roman Baths, but for all our historic buildings, great and small. The published report, funded by The Sector Skills Development Agency, Construction Skills and English Heritage, was created to highlight the growing gap between those older professionals with skills to conserve buildings using traditional materials and methods, and a lack of equally knowledgeable young people to continue the work.

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

1 comment:

  1. I take a certain amount of pride in the traditional tendency of this country to preserve its historical buildings great and small - certainly we have preserved a far greater proportion than countries like the USA and China - so this news is a little disheartening!