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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 have been developed for contractors and craftspeople, from short courses to foundation degrees.

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

Finding training

Training has been designed by industry and supported by the Construction Industry Training Board including:

You can find out more about the range of qualifications and up-to-date information on over 120 training providers and their courses on the National Heritage Training Group website.

Promoting a skilled and qualified workforce

Historic England are working with partners on a range of measures to support traditional building skills including promoting demand for, and uptake of, the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card for heritage skills.

The card demonstrates that the holder has the right skills to work on historic and traditional buildings.

Following a successful pilot project at Audley End, repairing the lead sheet roofs and gutters, the English Heritage Trust now require contractors working on their projects with significant amounts of 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 contains the step by step process which can be followed to incorporate this requirement into projects.

To register as a supplier for building work 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 and demonstrates achievement of one of the following:

  • Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Heritage Skills (Construction)
  • An approved apprenticeship
  • A recognised conservation qualification
  • In the case of lead workers, the Heritage Experienced Leadwork Practical Assessment (HELPA)

In addition, the Health, Safety and Environment Test touch screen test must be passed. 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 latest research, 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.

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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