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Built Heritage Seminar with the Arts and Heritage All Party Parliamentary Group looks at the decline in skilled craftspeople

Following a joint meeting between the Construction Skills and Training All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), the Arts and Heritage APPG and the Roofing APPG earlier in the year a follow-up seminar on the 20th November, called by Sir Patrick Cormack, set out to provide further insights into the challenges faced to safeguard our built heritage for the future.

The event aimed to help raise the level of debate in order to reverse the current decline in traditional building craft skills and was well attended by MP’s, peers and experts from industry alike.

Emphasis focussed on the need to promote the sectors role to clients as well as future craftspeople in terms of the value it adds not only to the areas we live, work, visit and enjoy but also in terms of its contribution to the economy.

The conservation, repair and maintenance on pre-1919 buildings is big business, with approximately £5.2 billion spent every year in England, Scotland and Wales. There are around 5.9 million pre-1919 buildings in England, Scotland & Wales, including half a million listed buildings and pre-1919 building stock forms 20% of total building stock in England and Scotland, and one-third in Wales. In England alone 86,000 people work within the built heritage sector.

Despite this, heritage skills are sadly not a priority within the wider construction industry’s agenda. Many of the specialist skills which are needed to preserve our heritage are in decline, with their very existence being threatened.

A business case for investment in training for the heritage sector was put forward and the Government itself was encouraged to take the lead and become a model client, demonstrating best practice by insisting on a balance between quality and price when assessing tenders.

Currently industry culture, trade practice and the historic lack of awareness among many clients and stakeholders has contributed to the vicious circle which perpetuates the use of inappropriate methods and materials on pre-1919 buildings. It was stressed therefore that it was essential that traditional craft skills are also considered and incorporated into supply chain tendering processes.

Attendees agreed to make the meeting an annual event.

Research into traditional building craft skills in Northern Ireland is currently taking place and is due to be completed next year.

For more information on how to get involved in safeguarding our built heritage for the future please contact

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