Ancient occupations like stonemasonry and heritage carpentry could be lost forever if the UK fails to address its skills shortages, says a Yorkshire-based training body.
The Heritage Craft Alliance (HCA), which provides accredited training to upskill the next generation of craftspeople, says 40,000 professionals are due to retire in the next decade.
There is already a desperate shortage of qualified craftspeople, according to the HCA, and the situation is set to worsen over the next decade putting historic trades and the expert preservation of ancient buildings at risk.
In response to the threat, the Heritage Craft Alliance has developed a unique Apprenticeship starting in September which covers all masonry and wood occupations.
The nationally accredited Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship in Traditional Craft Skills lasts 17 months and is being delivered from the organisation’s Heritage Craft Centre in Bedale, North Yorkshire.
The Apprenticeship programme has also been extended this year to the South West and apprentices will be able to access HCA training through the Eden Project in Cornwall.
Glenn Young, director at the Heritage Craft Alliance, said: “With more than half a million buildings in the UK having heritage status, there’s a huge business opportunity for companies able to demonstrate heritage trades and skills.
“Employers can charge up to 30 per cent more for heritage work and helping your staff to gain specialist qualifications really does give you a competitive advantage.
“The Government is actively supporting and funding the employment of apprentices and business owners may be entitled to support with training.
“This unique training is tailored to both employers’ needs and the future needs of the UK heritage sector. We have some incredibly important historic buildings in Yorkshire and we need to ensure we have the skills needed to look after them in future years.
“The construction sector in particular needs to address this skills shortage and we welcome applications from potential apprentices and enquiries from employers who are looking to upskill their workforce and future-proof their businesses.”