View along the riverside of crowds walking past Shakespeare's Globe theatre, London.

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Shakespeare's Globe theatre, London. © Historic England AA034525.

Traditional Building Skills

Working with the estimated 5.5 million traditional (pre-1919) buildings in England requires particular skills and expertise. A wide range of training courses and qualifications are available for contractors and craftspeople, from short courses, apprenticeships to foundation degrees.

This page covers:

 

Working with older and historic buildings requires a particular set of skills and expertise so it is important contractors and craftspeople have training and qualifications to prove their competence.
Working with older and historic buildings requires a particular set of skills and expertise so it is important contractors and craftspeople have training and qualifications to prove their competence. © West Dean College

Working with our partners

Historic England are working with Cadw, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and Historic Environment Scotland in a strategic partnership, to address the skills and vocational training needs of the construction industry in Great Britain. Find out more in the latest progress report, the strategic aims and action plan:

See what the partners say in the press release from the launch.

Construction Trailblazer Apprenticeships

These new apprenticeship standards, are designed by employer groups and set out the knowledge, skills and behaviours required for each occupation.

See examples here of apprenticeship standards for construction trades that include an understanding of traditional construction materials and methods:

Our strategic partnership aims to integrate heritage skills in to ‘mainstream’ construction training. The aim is that all learners entering the construction sector are equipped with the right knowledge and skills to carry out work on traditional (pre-1919) buildings. Key recent developments in the occupational maps will shape the core content of the Trailblazer Apprenticeships and new T levels going forward:

  • The Building Tradesperson occupations for construction trades such as roofing, brickwork, plasterwork, and carpentry and joinery, require ‘knowledge of heritage building methods and materials’.
  • The ‘principles of heritage and conservation, e.g. listed buildings, traditional buildings and maintenance of existing stock’ are included in the core content of the new Construction T level for Design, Surveying and Planning.

More information on Trailblazer Apprenticeships and T levels in the construction industry can be found on the CITB and Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education websites.

You can also find out more about wider opportunities in the heritage sector on our Heritage Apprenticeships page.

Finding training

Training designed by industry and supported by the Construction Industry Training Board includes:

You can find out more about the range of careers, qualifications and up-to-date information from the GoConstruct website.

Promoting a skilled and qualified workforce

The Heritage Skills Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card demonstrates that the holder has the right skills to work on historic and traditional (pre-1919) buildings.

Following a successful pilot project at Audley End, to repair the lead sheet roofs and gutters, the English Heritage Trust now require contractors working on their projects with historic leadwork to hold Heritage Skills Specialist Leadwork CSCS cards.

More information on the background, aims and outcomes of the pilot project is available in the ‘Heritage Skills CSCS Card Pilot Project’ report. It also explains, step by step, how to incorporate this requirement into projects.

To register as a supplier to carry out building works on English Heritage Trust sites and properties go to their electronic tendering portal.

Getting a Heritage Skills CSCS card

The card is available for a range of traditional building skills occupations. You can apply for a Heritage CSCS card if you have achieved one of the following:

  • Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Heritage Skills (Construction). Workers with skills and experience can complete this through On Site Assessment and Training (OSAT). The competence of skilled workers is assessed through a portfolio of evidence and by demonstrating workplace skills, supplemented by specialist training if required.
  • Level 3 (or equivalent) in a craft occupation and a recognised conservation qualification, for example a Foundation Degree or MSc in Building Conservation or equivalent, or completion of SPAB William Morris Craft Fellowiship.
  • The Heritage Experienced Leadwork Practical Assessment (HELPA) for lead workers.

The individual must also pass the Health, Safety and Environment Test touch screen. The card must be renewed every five years. You can find out more information about this on the CSCS website.

Skills research

Our activities are informed by research into skills gaps and shortages. The research report, Repair, Maintenance and Energy Efficiency Retrofit of Traditional (pre-1919) Buildings in England and Scotland 2013 has information about the supply and demand of traditional building skills, materials and training provision in the sector. Here you can view the infographics and updated forecasts for 2017 to 2021.

A growing range of research on the heritage labour market is available including skills provisions in local authorities, historic and botanic garden skills, built heritage sector professionals and architectural conservators.

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