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National Trust apprenticeship scheme tackles skill shortage
Article Type: Notes and news From: Industrial and Commercial Training, Volume 42, Issue 7
The National Trust has created a new apprenticeship scheme in a bid to tackle the severe building-skills shortage in the heritage sector.
The program, which mainly targets 16-19 year olds, will train people in traditional skills including stone masonry, carpentry, joinery, lead work, plumbing, painting and decorating.
The full-time three-year program, which began in September, offered 16 positions at National Trust properties across the country, where apprentices train alongside staff due to retire. The aim is to provide continuity of valued skills by enabling those who are retiring to teach and mentor the next generation.
The trust currently employs around 130 direct-labor staff across the UK, with an average age of just under 50. With almost 19 percent of those staff due to retire within four years, rising to 25 percent in six years, the need to recruit skilled people in their place is a priority.
Rory Cullen, head of building at the National Trust, said: “The severe shortage of people with heritage building skills has made it extremely difficult for the trust to recruit appropriate staff and this situation is common to the industry as a whole. We have responsibility for the upkeep of more listed and historic structures than anyone else, so we are in a prime position to generate awareness of the issue and take action to address it.
“However, the apprenticeship scheme will not only be of benefit to the conservation of our own buildings, but also to the heritage sector as a whole.”
Philip Venning, secretary of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, said: “The National Trust has a huge range of buildings, and this scheme will give the apprentices a unique chance to learn from some of the best in the field. The initiative will have a wider benefit for the nation’s architectural heritage, both now and for years to come.”
The apprenticeship scheme is being paid for from the trust’s own funds. Each apprentice receives £12,000 a year. College and tuition fees are also covered.
The National Trust cares for 300 historic houses and gardens across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Its properties range from former workers’ cottages to stately homes, and from mines and mills to theatres and inns.