First apprentices in stonemasonry and carpentry & joinery get hands-on at National Trust sites as new scheme tackles heritage skills shortage
- 08 February 2023
Update 08.10.23: Given the severity of the allegations published in The Sunday Times we have suspended our work with the Hamish Ogston Foundation.
Seven apprentices are underway with their training in heritage skills in stonemasonry and carpentry & joinery at five National Trust places around the country.
An ageing workforce and lack of training opportunities has led to a sharp decline in the traditional building and heritage skills sector, putting the future of historic buildings at risk.
The new apprenticeship scheme is aimed at tackling the heritage skills shortage and is possible thanks to a grant of £6.2 million from the Hamish Ogston Foundation to train the craftspeople of the future.
The scheme launched in September last year with the first seven apprentices – five in stonemasonry and two in carpentry and joinery, from Cornwall up to Yorkshire, and they have already worked in their first 6 months with their mentors on a variety of projects
Matt, a joinery apprentice based at Clumber in Nottinghamshire said: “One of my first projects was making a skylight. I’ve worked on windows from Coughton Court, repairing and splicing in new pieces of timber repairing sills. And at Tattershall we’ve been doing structural repairs to bridges.”
Meanwhile, stonemasonry apprentice Tom has been at Fountains in Yorkshire and explained: “…we’ve just done a bit of dry-stone walling which has come out well, and things in and around the workshop…rebuilding of chimney stacks…pointing work.”
At Cotehele estate in Cornwall, where apprentice Rowan has been learning to repair doors, make oak handles and undertake letter carving, his trainer Jon comes with a particular insight as a mentor, having joined the National Trust as an apprentice himself eight years ago. “It’s all practical hands-on teaching, I demonstrate, Rowan watches and learns, and then tries it himself.” He adds: “I’m an advocate for apprenticeships. I’ve been through the process, I’m here now. It’s the best way to teach and to learn.”
The apprenticeship programme is open to people of all ages but is particularly targeted at young people and will result in either a Level 2 or Level 3 qualification through the government’s formal apprenticeship scheme.
The development of expert craftspeople takes significant time and investment, so each individual will also benefit from a one-year post-apprentice work placement, designed by the National Trust, to further embed their skills and put their training into practice.
By the time they’ve finished their training and work placement, each apprentice will have been employed by National Trust for between three and five years and will have the skills and experience they need to embark on their career and make a significant contribution towards protecting and preserving the nation’s heritage.
Jane Bellinger, the National Trust’s People Development Director said:
“It is clear from seeing our first group of apprentices at work just how much they are enjoying their training and learning new skills. And for the Trust, our current skilled craftspeople at some of our historic sites are helping to develop the next generation of specialists who will carry forward such a vital part of conservation for heritage buildings.
“We are enormously grateful to Hamish Ogston Foundation for a grant that will enable us to provide more than 50 apprenticeships at our places across the country over the next few years and make a real difference in keeping these craft skills alive. I hope we can encourage more people to apply in the next round of recruitment so they too can develop their own careers while helping to secure our nations’ heritage.”
Robert Bargery, Heritage Project Director for the Hamish Ogston Foundation, said:
“It is fantastic to see the first group of apprentices under the Hamish Ogston Foundation Heritage Crafts Apprenticeship Programme begin their work at historic National Trust buildings up and down the country, not only because, as they complete their hands-on training, they are completing crucial restorative works on great works of architecture which will benefit local communities for generations to come, but also for the fact that they are picking up skills that will provide them with a unique, fulfilling lifelong career in heritage conservation.
“We look forward to seeing how the careers of these first apprentices, as well as those yet to begin their work and study, develop in the years to come.”
For further information and to apply from April 2023 visit https://www.nationaltrustjobs.org.uk/where-you-could-work/apprenticeships/