Apprenticeships are a time ““ honoured means for education and training, bringing people into employment with a speciality for a specific trade for centuries.
In recent times, apprenticeships have suffered from a lack of prestige, falling short in the glamour stakes that degrees have attained. The government has been committed to the development of apprenticeships as a route to employment and as a means to keep young people in education, with the long term goal of meeting the skills shortfalls in the nation’s economy.
Given the long history and reputation in days gone by of the apprentice, it is somehow fitting that the Heritage Lottery Fund has announced that it is to provide a funding injection of £7 million. This will fund ten partnerships aimed at creating apprenticeships in traditional skills and crafts. The partner organisations which will receive training bursaries include English Heritage, The Broads Authority, The National Trust, Historic Scotland and The Institute of Conservation.
Skills Minister on Plugging the Gap
The funding move comes with the realisation that there are merely 40,000 craftspeople properly qualified to help maintain what the Heritage Lottery Fund call “the nation’s fragile historic environment.” With the demands growing in the fight to preserve Britain’s national heritage, the funding is expected to help to plug the skills gap.
The Skills Minister Phil Hope MP said: “This initiative addressing skills in the specialist areas of conservation and management will help preserve our rich rural heritage. As well as ensuring more people are trained in the short term, the bursaries will help the sector to develop innovative models of delivering training which can be used in the future.
“It is important we protect our unique countryside and heritage through fostering traditional skills,” he continued, going on to say: “This Governments employer led sector skills councils under our skills strategy will help ensure employers skills needs are met and skills gaps closed wherever they are.”
Accreditation Where Credit is Due
Apprenticeships are the most effective means to learn these “traditional” skills; however, there is a distinct paucity in the number of accredited apprenticeships in the area. Furthermore, statutory funding is prioritised for under 25 year olds and for basic training, whereas many crafts people enter the profession mid-career and need specialist training.
Sharon Goddard, Heritage Lottery Fund policy adviser for education, said: “There is an urgent need for an initiative like this. Heritage skills are in real danger of dying out, yet an estimated 6,590 additional skilled craftspeople are needed to meet shortages for the UK’s historic buildings alone.”
She spoke enthusiastically of this project, saying: “Our Training Bursary Scheme is designed to lead the fight to keep these essential skills alive by expanding the pool of skilled people and laying the foundations for more heritage training schemes.”
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