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The Prince of Wales backs new initiative to help revive heritage skills

The Prince’s Charities Foundation and ConstructionSkills have announced that they are providing start-up funding for a Project Director to develop plans for a new “Cotswolds Heritage Academy”.

The new Project Director will develop proposals for the Heritage Academy in the first instance. The Academy is the initiative of Stephen Davis, Chairman of the Woodchester Mansion Trust. It will aim to train apprentices at all levels to help provide a new generation of craftspeople. It will provide the core skills integral for ensuring growth in the built Heritage sector, offering accredited training in a range of craft skills and related heritage skills at HE level. The Heritage Academy will promote to school pupils at primary and secondary levels the relevance and rewards of careers in the heritage sector.

The announcement was made today at a Seminar hosted by The Prince of Wales at Highgrove to promote traditional building craft skills. It comes a year on from the launch of a Skills Needs Analysis of the built heritage sector produced by the National Heritage Training Group and funded collectively by English Heritage and ConstructionSkills. Its aim was to accurately quantify the size of the sector in England, and identify the most acute skills shortages and skills gaps and to establish an action plan to address this.

The report has provided evidence that although some 86,000 people currently work in the built heritage sector which generates over £3.5 billion per year – demand is still outstripping supply. In fact at least 6,500 craftspeople will be needed simply to satisfy demand in the cyclical period 2005/06.

Photo for heritage skills

Many of the specialist skills which are needed to preserve Britain’s heritage are in decline, their very existence threatened. The academy will build links to the region and its communities using the skills experience and influence of all the partners with the academy to encourage engagement with heritage, and it will expand the skills set of existing heritage and mainstream construction sector craftspeople. It will also provide management and business skills and conservation training to the sector.

Peter Lobban, ConstructionSkills Chief Executive, said “It is my great pleasure to tell you that ConstructionSkills will match fund his Royal Highnesses commitment and partner the Prince’s Foundation to support the first Heritage Academy. We will also be looking to involve other partners that share our enthusiasm and are prepared to make similar commitments. This is an exciting breakthrough but it is only the beginning. Let us hope what we are announcing today becomes the first in a network in heritage academies covering all the regions and countries of the UK.

Photo for heritage skills

A Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment Spokesperson said:

“We are excited to help incubate this worthy endeavor which hopes to demonstrate the relevance of a joined-up approach to crafts training in a heritage rich region of the country.”

To further information, read the full press release.

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