The Heritage Building Skills Programme

This major project in the North of England is passing endangered heritage craft and construction skills to the next generation and restoring historic buildings.

Three people repairing a brick wall.
Participants on the Heritage Building Skills Programme learning traditional techniques to repair pointing from Emma Simpson, a specialist in the conservation of traditional brickwork. © Historic England

The programme launched in 2021 and is supplying in-work training and apprenticeships to encourage more people to learn endangered crafts.

The programme aims to:

  • reduce shortages in heritage craft skills
  • improve the condition of Heritage at Risk (HAR) sites
  • create career opportunities for young people from less-advantaged backgrounds

The first apprentices started in September 2021 and have benefited significantly from this opportunity. We are delighted to be working with our first complete cohort of trainees across the different tiers of the programme, from entry level building college students and apprentices, to more experienced specialist craftspeople honing a new skill.

The programme is supporting apprentices to learn a wide range of specialist heritage techniques in trades such as:

  • bricklaying
  • carpentry
  • joinery
  • millwrights
  • mosaic and stained-glass conservation
  • painting and decorating
  • plastering
  • roofing
  • stonemasonry
'Before I came to this apprenticeship, I worked in a recycling plant that specialised in skips, where day to day I would sort general, household and building site waste. The chance to work in the heritage sector is unique and drew my attention from the offset.
What drew me to the role most of all is the fact that by working on these historical buildings you get to leave a legacy behind. I hope to gain the skills and techniques that will allow me to pursue a career I am passionate about in heritage.
I have particularly enjoyed working at Fulford Church near York because it is possible to see the difference you are making to an old building. I especially like that this project is challenging as it involves retrofitting a listed building with new insulation, to ensure it can still carry out its function and serve the community for many more years to come, without changing its external appearance.'
Andrew Addison, Roofing Apprentice

Editor’s note: this programme was called The Hamish Ogston Foundation Heritage Building Skills Programme until October 2023.