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A Future in Traditional Skills

Hand Sanding New Sash On Airbench Extractor

This year has been tough for everyone, but most would agree that the impact on young people has been significant. With schools closed, exams cancelled, restrictions on meeting with friends, and a loss of job opportunities, it is no wonder that many young people have found 2020 a very difficult year.

It is recognised by Historic Environment Scotland that there is a shortage of people skilled in carrying out traditional building work. Their Skills Investment Plan was published in 2019 and highlights that the heritage sector offers a diverse range of opportunities employing 20,000 full-time employees.

The Trust is committed to supporting education and training in traditional skills and, for the first time this year, we have recently offered apprenticeship bursaries to two local firms to help them to support the employment of young apprentices. Stirling based Sash & Case run by Andrew Miller and Gillies & Farrell of Bridge of Allan have both received first year funding for their recently appointed apprentices.

Chairman of the Trust, David Black, explained, ‘The Trust offers grant funding for traditional repairs to older buildings but it is becoming increasingly obvious that there are not enough skilled tradesmen in this area. We know through our Traditional Buildings Health Check scheme that our members find it very challenging to source qualified tradesmen to undertake work. We want to address the skills gap by helping local firms to take on new apprentices. Given the significant difficulties facing young people due to coronavirus and the lack of available jobs, this is a very positive step’.

Andrew Miller of Sash and Case said, ‘We are delighted to have been able to employ a further apprentice this year despite the pressures of Covid-19. This has only been made possible by the bursary support provided by SCHT. The scheme focuses on traditional skills which are woefully underrepresented in the trade. We face a continued skills shortage at a time when our built environment needs us more than ever. This bursary not only helps train young apprentices but will also help protect and preserve our built environment for many years to come’.

Scott Gillies, director of Gillies & Farrell said, ‘The Apprenticeship Bursary received from SCHT gives Gillies and Farrell Masonry Ltd and our first-year apprentice a great start to his training. It enables us to support the apprentice and supply him with the necessary tools and training to develop their skills. We feel it is very important to bring through the next generation of stonemasons as there is a great skill shortage of qualified stonemasons at present. Our apprentice, Lewis Heenan, has shown great potential and we are confident that we can help him to become an excellent craftsman.’

The Trust is also working with Stirling Community Enterprise (SCE) to set up pre-apprenticeship training sessions in 2021. These will help prepare young people to transition from school into an apprenticeship. Nicole DeBrincat of SCE said ‘we support individuals on their journey to employment, no matter what age or circumstances, through one to one support, training and links with local employers’.

In 2020, SCHT held an event to inspire young women to take up a career in traditional skills and we will work closely with SCE and DYW in 2021 to support and offer local young people the chance to pursue a career in the heritage sector. If you are an employer or a young person interested in finding out more please email the Trust Manager

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