Traditional Building Craft Skills in Wales

Traditional Building Craft Skills in Wales

Traditional Building Craft Skills in Wales

Skills Summit at Caerphilly Castle
22nd March 2012

This major event focused on supply and demand issues concerning traditional building craft skills. It was organised by the Wales Historic Environment Group (HEG) who are advisers to the Welsh Minister for Housing Regeneration and Heritage. It involved presentations and speeches from practitioners and stakeholders in Wales and also England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. This included two Welsh Government ministerial Keynote speeches and a workshop to facilitate input from all those that attended. This has concluded with advice to the Minister for Housing Regeneration and Heritage resulting in the following Key Recommendations (including proposed lead organisations):

Short-term (i.e. within 12 months)

Make advice and information easy to find: review current online databases and information sources for competent practitioners in traditional building skills and suppliers of products for traditional buildings; also investigate the need/demand for a single, online portal/hub to access these diverse databases (CSkills).

Encourage the proper maintenance of traditional building stock by homeowners: this opportunity could be enhanced by capitalising on the current interest in the history of houses, and how to restore/maintain them, as shown in the popularity of television programmes such as ‘Grand Designs’ and ‘The Restoration Man’. Identifying a media champion and further commissioning of articles/TV programmes, together with engaging with social media is required (Cadw and its historic buildings and conservation networks, together with energy-efficiency organisations).

Government-sponsored programmes to set an example: need to encourage relevant Government programmes to be holistic in design and application — the ‘Green Deal’ outcomes, for example, should include traditional building skills development as well as energy efficiency, so that the long term integrity of older properties is not compromised (Housing, Regeneration and Heritage Minister, WG).

Ensure upcoming Government legislation, policy and guidance encourages proper maintenance of traditional buildings; convene a short term ‘task and finish’ group (made up of central, national and local government representatives) to make connections and establish links between existing heritage bodies, government funding streams, VAT issues, skills development, community regeneration and the safeguarding of our heritage  (Housing, Regeneration and Heritage Minister, WG)

Longer term (i.e. within 3 years)

Expand knowledge: Review and commission research to ensure the performance of traditional materials and buildings are adequately understood and best practice promulgated; commission a review of current research to identify gaps in knowledge on the behaviour of older buildings, which can establish co-ordinated best practice in both energy efficiency and the maintenance of older buildings (Housing, Regeneration and Heritage Minister, WG).

Make maintenance mainstream: promote building maintenance and the use of sustainable materials as a key part of relevant courses in Welsh FE colleges and universities (Deputy Minister for Skills WG).

Accredit and support competence: Develop training and ‘upskilling’ programmes leading to accreditation for those wishing to maintain and restore buildings of all types and improve Continuous Professional Development (CPD) for those working on pre-1919 buildings (CSkills).

Develop longer term proposals that will consider requiring individual and organisation accreditation, prior to working on pre-1919 buildings, to stimulate demand for skills and training, and to maintain quality standards of work. This could include consideration of a building MoT perhaps linked to buildings above a certain value / size / height (CSkills).

To promote the employment of accredited practitioners on all publicly-funded projects above a set value, involving pre-1919 buildings or structures. HLF already encourages contractors working on HLF-funded projects to either have the necessary accreditation or to be actively working towards it. (Housing, Regeneration and Heritage Minister WG).

Download the speeches by Jeff Cuthbert Deputy Skills Minister and Huw Lewis Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage.

Other presentations and speeches:

Other Contributors to the Summit included Liz Lucas of Caerphilly Borough Council on procurement, Trevor Francis of the Wales Traditional and Sustainability Building Skills Advisory Group, Jo Riley of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Wyn Pritchard of Construction-Skills Wales, Nell Hellier of the Tywi Training Centre along with two trainees and Marilyn Lewis and John Edwards of Cadw. There were also perspectives from other parts of the UK with Maybelline Gormley from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Ian Walker of Historic Scotland and Rory Cullen of the National Trust from England.