From education to employment

Constructionskills hope Level 3 qualification will help address skills crisis in heritage build sect

A new NVQ in Heritage Skills has been launched by ConstructionSkills and the National Heritage Training Group (NHTG). The Level 3 qualification is part of a package of measures designed to address the skills crisis in the built heritage sector.

Thousands of new recruits are needed annually in order to meet the high level of demand for traditional heritage skills used in the repair and conservation of historic buildings. Repair and maintenance on pre-1919 buildings is worth an estimated £5.2billion every year in England, Scotland and Wales and thousands of new recruits are needed to meet the demand for traditional heritage skills used in repair and maintenance of such buildings.

The new NVQ qualification is aimed at people already in the construction industry who want to develop new skills and knowledge relating to traditional building skills and materials. For the first time it also provides a relevant qualification for experienced craftspeople already working in the traditional build conservation, repair and maintenance sector.

A target of 250 students has been set for the NVQ in its first year and students will be able to start the course from September 2007. Further education colleges including Oxford and Cherwell, North Nottinghamshire and Craven College in Skipton and Building Crafts College in London are already preparing to deliver courses to support the delivery of the NVQ and recruitment of NVQ assessors is underway.

In preparation for the launch of the NVQ the NHTG developed the Training the Trainers programme designed to improve the knowledge and skills of FE college lecturers in aspects of building conservation and restoration and to aid in course development. The course has run for two years and in 2007 was attended by 22 college lecturers.

Seamus Hanna Heritage & Conservation Manager, ConstructionSkills said: “Many of the specialist skills needed to preserve our built heritage, from traditional plasterwork and masonry repairs to dry stone walling and thatching, have declined through the latter half of the 20th century, creating the very real risk that they may die out completely. Until now qualifications in the heritage sector have often been very specialised and pathways for continued development for existing craftspeople have been limited. The new Heritage NVQ will offer a new pathway for potentially thousands of people and encourage them to stay in or enter this sector.

“It is critical that today’s event not only galvanises action from those key players already working in the sector but also educates the construction industry at large of the need to understand the requirements specific to the pre-1919 building stock.”

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