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Traditional skills to the fore during Scottish Apprenticeship Week

21 May 2013

The future workforce that will conserve Scotland’s traditional buildings have been showing off their skills at a special public demonstration in the Capital to mark Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2013.

The event by apprentices from the public and private sectors has showcased skills in roofing, stonemasonry, joinery, painting and decorating in Edinburgh’s St Andrews Square over the last two days. The trainees have also been informing the public about the opportunities that exist within the sector and speaking of how vital it is for Scotland that these skills are retained and nurtured.

Sixteen apprentices from all over Scotland have been a major attraction for those passing through the Square with many stopping to see the young people showing off their new skills across the four trades. There has also been a real interest in the need for more people to take up careers in traditional building skills.

This week’s event builds on the Stimulating Demand for Traditional Skills Ministerial Summit - hosted by the Cabinet Secretary in November 2012, when a sector-wide approach to driving more interest in traditional skills was discussed. This renewed effort aims to ensure all areas of the historic environment play their part in attracting more people into traditional skills to provide the resources required to maintain the country’s traditional building stock.

Over the last five years, Historic Scotland has recruited 48 apprentices making it the single biggest recruiter of traditional skills trainees in Scotland. This is a significant commitment by the Agency to creating opportunities for young people and help stimulate economic growth.

Visiting the event today, Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, said: “The enthusiasm from the young people about traditional skills and materials is very encouraging. These apprentices are the key to protecting our rich skills legacy and ensuring they continue long into the future. They are also vital to maintaining the historic built environment.

“With over 400,000 traditionally constructed buildings in Scotland the need to invest in training the skilled tradespeople of the future is very real.

“As well as the enthusiasm of the trainees, I was delighted to hear of the continuing commitment by public and private sectors employers and further education to creating apprenticeship opportunities for our young people.”

This St Andrews Square event has being coordinated by Historic Scotland, in partnership with Essential Edinburgh, Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, City of Edinburgh Council, the National Federation of Roofing Contractors, Stone Federation Great Britain, National Specialist Contractors Council, CITB-ConstructionSkills in Scotland, Edinburgh College and the Painting and Decorating Association.

City of Edinburgh Council has been a key partner in this week’s activity. Economy Convenor Cllr Frank Ross said: “This week is a fantastic way for young people to come and find out what Modern Apprenticeships are all about. From the traditional building skills being demonstrated by local businesses, to the more office-based internships we have on offer at the Council as part of the Edinburgh Guarantee, there is something to interest everyone.”

Notes for editors:

  • Scottish Apprenticeship Week – led by Skills Development Scotland - gives individuals, employers, providers and stakeholders a chance to showcase apprenticeships and the benefits they bring to Scotland’s businesses and economy. From May 20 to 24, there will be a national programme of events as well as regional and local events across the country.

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

  • 2013 is the Year of Natural Scotland, inspiring our people and our visitors to celebrate Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty, landscapes and biodiversity as Scotland prepares to welcome the world in 2014 and beyond. Find out more about Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty at

Historic Scotland around the web:

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For further information

John MacNeil
Media Relations Manager
Communications and Media
0131 668 8714 or 07854 366 827