Two women looking at computer screen
Archaeological illustration training © Historic England DP218468
Archaeological illustration training © Historic England DP218468

Apprenticeships in the Heritage Sector

This page explains the development of Heritage Apprenticeships for prospective employers, training providers, assessment organisations, and other professionals in these sectors.

If you are interested yourself in learning more about apprenticeships offered by Historic England, new apprenticeship opportunities will be advertised on the jobs section.

On this page you will find:

Latest updates

Research into the sector’s engagement with apprenticeships

Historic England have commissioned MSDS Heritage to undertake research to help inform our strategic approach towards engaging with apprenticeships and opportunities for skills delivery programmes. This project is the opportunity for the heritage sector to provide feedback on the apprenticeship system in England and their engagement with it and help inform future approaches to skills challenges within the sector.

Two surveys have been created one aimed at senior managers and employers and one aimed at early career heritage professionals.

Surveys will run until mid-February 2023 and there is opportunity at the end of the survey for participants to indicate if they wish to take part in a 1:1 interview.

Historic Environment Trailblazer: Heritage Construction Specialist Consultation

The Historic Environment Trailblazer has been developing new level 5 apprenticeship standard for a heritage construction specialist. Earlier this year, the Trailblazer submitted a proposal for the apprenticeship to the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, and was successful in gaining approval to develop the apprenticeship standard.

The Trailblazer is working on the knowledge, skills and behaviours for the standard and the associated End Point Assessment Plan, with hopes for submission for approval mid 2023.

The Heritage Building Skills Programme

This is a programme to safeguard vital heritage building skills and provide training opportunities in the north of England.

Find out more about the programme

What is a Heritage Apprenticeship?

Heritage Apprenticeships is just a term we are using to describe apprenticeship standards creating specifically for the historic environment sector. They follow exactly the same pattern as any other modern apprenticeship in England.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfA) oversees the development and approvals processes for new apprenticeships and this is very rigorous. It has taken some years for the Historic Environment Trailblazer to develop these new standards from scratch.

Apprenticeships offer a unique and valuable opportunity for individuals to learn a profession through formal training, gain experience in the workplace and earn money at the same time.

An apprenticeship will involve and 80% on-the-job training, and 20% off-the-job, undertaking a formal training programme delivered by a registered Training Provider.

An apprentice must be employed for at least 30 hours per week and have a contract for the length of the apprenticeship (minimum 12 months but this varies depending on which apprenticeship standard you are using).

Training providers play a central player in apprenticeships. Their job is not only to deliver off-the-job training, but to advise and support employers and apprentices throughout their journey, and to subcontract independent organisations to conduct assessment.

All new apprenticeships standards come with an End Point Assessment Plan; which demonstrates how the knowledge, skills and behaviours learnt through an apprenticeship will be assessed. An independent registered End Point Assessment Organisation will undertake this assessment, contracted by the Training provider.

Apprenticeships can be from Level 2 to Level 7 (equivalent to GCSE up to post-graduate degree), and they offer employers the opportunity to take on new staff or to up-skill existing staff.

The new Heritage Apprenticeships are designed to support our sector to train and maintain a skilled workforce, that will care for, conserve, and manage our heritage and historic environment into the future.

Heritage apprenticeships will:

  • Offer important new routes into a range of professions
  • Increase diversity within the sector
  • Provide development opportunities for staff
  • Address staff shortages and specialist skills gaps in the sector
  • Guarantee professional competence to professional standards
  • Foster leadership and people skills for managers and mentors

What Heritage Apprenticeships are available?

The Historic Environment Trailblazer has developed six apprenticeship standards in three areas: Archaeology, Conservation and Historic Environment Advice. The list below summarises the current situation with heritage apprenticeships as of June 2020, with the names of known Training Providers who have existing programmes or are actively developing new programmes.

Overview of Role: Provide support to Archaeologists undertaking archaeological Investigation, which may comprise surveys, excavations and post-excavation analysis.

Duration: 10-18 Months.

Known training Providers: Cirencester College (Cirencester, Gloucestershire).

Types of Employers who might offer it: Local Authorities, National Parks, consultancies, archaeological contractors.

Overview of Role: Providing technical, research and logistical support to Historic Environment professionals working with heritage assets in the planning and development process, and on the legal and policy frameworks for their protection.

Duration: 24 Months.

Known training providers: Strode College, (Street, Somerset)
Buildings Craft College (Stratford, London).

Types of Employers who might offer it: Local Authorities, National Parks, consultancies, archaeological contractors.

Overview of Role: Working under the supervision of professional conservators, conservation scientists or senior conservation to ensure the preservation of cultural heritage objects or collections housed in archives, art galleries, libraries, museums, private collections, as well as historic and ancient sites.

Duration: 24 Months

Known training providers: Westminster City Council (London) Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College (London).

Types of Employers who might offer it: Museums and Galleries, consultancies, national organisations.

Overview of role: Protecting, preserving and conserving objects that could be housed in archives, art galleries, libraries, museums, private collections, as well as historic and ancient sites. They may also undertake work related to the internal and external features of buildings, such as historic decorative interiors, stained glass windows and sculpture.

Duration: 54 months.

Known training providers: University of Lincoln (Lincolnshire).

Type of employers who might offer it: museums and galleries, consultancies, national organisations.

Overview of role: Planning, undertaking and leading archaeological research and investigation, which may comprise surveys, excavation, post-excavation analysis and scientific analysis of archaeological materials and data. Archaeological Specialists have specialised knowledge of one or more aspects of archaeological investigation and analysis.

Duration: 36 months.

Known trading providers: University of Wales, Trinity St David

Type of employers that might offer it: Local Authorities, National Parks, consultancies, national organisations, national amenity societies.

Overview of role: providing specialist and authoritative advice, guidance and assessment to those working on heritage assets and the legal and policy frameworks for their protection.

Duration: 36 months.

Type of Employer that might offer it: Local Authorities, National Parks, consultancies
national organisations, national amenity societies.

Other existing apprenticeship standards

There are also other existing apprenticeship standards available which can be utilised in the heritage sector, and you can search these on the Institute for Apprenticeships website.

For example, Historic England recruited a Geospatial Survey Technician apprentice to work in the Geospatial Survey Team.

Next Steps for employers and training providers

1. I’m a Training Provider interested in delivering the off-the-job training for these new apprenticeships

You will be a provider based at a Further Education/ Higher Education institution or other training organisation.

You should:

2. I’m an employer looking to take on an apprentice in one of these areas

There are three simple steps you should take when looking to take on a Heritage Apprentice:

Step one: choose an apprenticeship standard

  •  Have a look at the information on the new standards (use our list above) and see which best fits the needs of your organisation.
  • Also take a look at the End Point Assessment Plan for the standard, so you know how it will be assessed to whether your apprentice has met the standard on completing their apprenticeship.

Step two: identify a training provider

Our table above provides a list of current training providers delivering or developing programmes for the new Heritage Apprenticeship standards. You can also watch the videos and view the presentations form the Heritage Apprenticeships: Meet the Training Providers event.

You should get in touch with the relevant provider to discuss your needs and what they can offer. The following are things employers should consider when choosing the right training provider for you:

  • Location of training (how far is it from your workplace? Have you budgeted for travel costs?)
  • Method of delivery (is it 1 day per week, is it “block release” where the apprentice attends training for up to a week at a time, spread out over the year?)
  • Timing of delivery (is it an academic year start or is it a rolling programme an apprentice can join at any time?)
  • Content of the training course (How much does the programme meet your needs as an employer and how much flexibility is there to adapt it?)

Step three: recruit your apprentice

  •  You should make sure you have spoken to your HR and/or finance teams to ensure you have correctly followed any internal procedures, and that things like how to use the apprenticeships levy have been considered.
  •  Taking on apprentices can help you tackle such issues as an aging workforce, or the lack of diversity in the heritage sector so why not use this opportunity to be innovative in your recruitment.
  • Remember, with an apprentice you are recruiting someone who is going to be learning as they go; so recruitment should be focused on the strengths and motivations of the candidates – the things that will be key to an apprentice’s success at your organisation.

Contact us

If you are an employer or a training provider in the Historic Environment sector and would like more information about the Trailblazer or the development and delivery of the new apprenticeship standards, please contact our apprenticeships team: [email protected]

Editor’s note: this programme was called The Hamish Ogston Foundation Heritage Building Skills Programme until October 2023.