Two English Heritage reports focus on skills shortage for the future 13 Dec 2013

Two English Heritage reports focus on skills shortage for heritage

English Heritage’s annual report Heritage Counts which measures the heritage sector this year focuses on skills needs and the risk of knowledge loss.  Chairman Sir Laurie Magnus writes: “[There has been] an alarming decline in heritage and building conservation skills, which are essential if the heritage sector is to remain one of the engines of growth for the English economy.  Heritage Counts research shows that 60% of the cultural heritage organisations have no training budget and 42% expect skills to be lost and not replaced due to retirement (with over half of those expecting this to occur within the next five years).”

The findings also include:

  • Staffing for conservation officers has fallen by 33% in local authorities since 2006 and 18% for archaeological officers.
  • The main skill set that was felt to be missing across the cultural heritage sector is IT and digital (37%) skills, including social media, web optimisation, website management and website design.
  • However there are also likely to be increasing skills gaps in the field of traditional building, where the workforce are significantly older than in the rest of the construction industry. There has been a 72% drop in the recruitment of apprentices since 2006.
  • The HLF/English Heritage Skills for the Future scheme ran from 2009 – 13 to improve skills and some of the funded projects are still running. 

In response to the problem, English Heritage has launched Heritage Practice, a new programme from January 2014 bringing together 22 courses offering 400 specialist training places with Oxford University Department for continuing education.  English Heritage will also make over 300 new training places available free to Local Authority staff as part of its Historic Environment Local Management (HELM) programme of short courses.

English Heritage have also produced a second and even more detailed report in partnership with Creative and Cultural Skills and drawing from information from over 1,000 employers – the Cultural Heritage and Historic Environment Skills SurveyHeritage Counts (pdf), English Heritage, Creative Blueprint