Craftspeople safeguarding the heritage of today and tomorrow

Friday 18 December 2015

Traditional skills in Wales are being safeguarded with the announcement of a third year of funding for the successful Skills for the Future programme from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Picture of apprentices on the Foundations of Heritage training course at Cardigan Castle

Apprentices on the Foundations of Heritage training course at Cardigan Castle

The Skills for the Future programme provides much needed financial support for bursary schemes to deliver training and qualifications in traditional building skills.

One of the courses that has benefited in this programme is the Traditional Building Skills Bursary Scheme for Displaced Apprentices (TBSBS) which has offered apprenticeships to learners part-way through their training in a traditional building skill.  

Placements allow the apprentice to complete their vocational qualification to become fully qualified in their trade. At the same time they develop the understanding and skills required to work on historic buildings. The scheme is run by the National Trust and supported by Cadw, Historic England and the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).  

Lime plastering, stonemasonry and carpentry are just some of the skills which can be learned on another traditional building skills scheme that Cadw supports – the Building our Heritage Bursary Scheme, run by the Tywi Centre.  This course offers opportunities to work alongside skilled heritage builders and to achieve NVQ level 3 in Heritage Skills (construction) in Wales.  

Jill Fairweather, Inspector of Historic Buildings, said: “These schemes are helping to ensure that there is a pool of craftsmen and women with the right skills to look after the high percentage of buildings in Wales that are of traditional construction.”

She added: “The bursary schemes and the students, past and present, also play an important role in raising public awareness of the need to maintain their buildings using appropriate building materials and techniques. This is contributing towards the Welsh Government priorities on skills and job creation, as well as helping to ensure that we have a well cared for built historic environment.”

The Traditional Building Skills Bursary Scheme created 41 apprenticeships across England and Wales in the last phase of the programme. The Tywi Centre has also trained 55 students on its Foundations in Heritage Bursary Scheme, 30 students on the Building our Heritage Bursary Scheme and 10 on its Women into Construction course. These apprentices have all been trained in Wales and the majority are now working in the heritage construction industry in Wales.  

Helena Burke, Heritage Bursary Officer at the Tywi Centre said “Many of our students have benefitted from working on Cadw funded projects for example Yr Hen Gapel, Leighton Farm, Insole Court, Cardigan Castle and Llanelly House. Such projects provide valuable insight into the complexities of repairing and restoring old buildings and fantastic opportunities to learn skills from experienced trades’ people”

Nell Hellier, Tywi Centre Manager said: ““The Tywi Centre Bursary Schemes have developed a pool of qualified craftsmen and women who understand appropriate repair and maintenance of old buildings, working in the construction industry in Wales.  Our aim is to have a fully functioning heritage construction market place and over the next few years work on developing demand for these much needed skills .”

More information about the projects that the apprentices have been involved in can be found by visiting the blog on the TBSBS website, or hear from the apprentices directly by following them on the TBSBS Facebook page and Twitter account @TTBSBS.

For more information on these schemes and how to apply for a work placement opportunity in traditional buildings, visit the Heritage Bursary Scheme page on the Tywi Centre website.