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Traditional building skills at heart of Scotland's construction industry, says Fiona Hyslop

10 November 2011

More apprentices now being recruited

Historic Scotland has launched its campaign to recruit 30 additional apprentices in traditional building skills -  stonemasonry, joinery and painting – that are crucial to Scotland’s construction industry.

The announcement was made by Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop who will later today highlight the importance of traditional building skills, and the contribution they make to the Scottish economy, in a Scottish Parliament Debate.

Ms Hyslop will say:

“Historic Scotland will be one of the biggest recruiters of construction craft apprentices in Scotland and will be looking for 30 additional apprentices over the next three years.  The first ten will be recruited by early next year.  This is in addition to the three or four apprentices already recruited each year by the organisation.

“Traditional building skills are at the heart of Scotland’s construction industry and help to boost economic growth. Currently Scotland’s historic environment contributes more than £2.3 billion to the economy and supports more than 20,000 employees in the construction industry.

Ms Hyslop, who yesterday visited the new Forth Valley College campus in Stirling, in which a brand new state of the art stonemasonry training centre is to be provided for Historic Scotland apprentices, added:

“Historic Scotland’s expertise in traditional buildings skills will make this a fantastic training resource.  The apprentices will have the opportunity to work on some of the most prestigious buildings in Scotland whilst developing skills that will help maintain and protect our hugely important historic environment for current and future generations.”

The new apprentices will experience a mixture of on the ground and college based training at the agency’s leading UK facility at Elgin and at the recently announced National Conservation Centre in Stirling. The new centre, which is being supported by the Young Scots Fund will allow Historic Scotland to develop world class training as well as offering support to other colleges. The apprenticeships will take place over a four year period after which time they will be qualified in their individual discipline.

During the visit, Historic Scotland and Forth Valley College also signed the memorandum of understanding for their new partnership.

Linda McKay, Principal for Forth Valley College said:

“We’re delighted to be embarking on this exciting partnership with Historic Scotland and to play such an important role in the creation of a National Conservation Centre for Scotland.  The College has an excellent reputation for delivering high quality training for the construction industry and this is a fantastic opportunity to get involved in this specialist skills provision.  Our new campus will provide high standard accommodation for the Historic Scotland apprentices and our staff and learners will benefit from gaining an insight into traditional building skills. We look forward to exploring future initiatives and maximising the opportunities our new campus will offer.”

Director of Conservation for Historic Scotland, David Mitchell said;

“This is a hugely exciting time for the sector as increased knowledge unlocks the potential of our traditional buildings to deliver very real tangible benefits in areas such as energy efficiency and sustainability.

“This places even greater emphasis on traditional skills in maintaining these buildings, a sector which continues to remain sound in the face of economic challenges.  

“The apprentices will benefit from quality training and a low ratio of teaching staff to learners, mirroring our successful training centre in Elgin. They will also have access to the latest research into building techniques combined with a first hand opportunity to learn skills that have been passed down through generations. In addition, being part of a new campus will also enable them to benefit in terms of access to great facilities and a rounded educational experience.”

For information:

  • The National Conservation Centre training facility at Forth Valley College will allow Historic Scotland to develop world class training, based on its leading UK facility at Elgin, as well as offering support to other colleges. It will also help to promote traditional building skills as one of its key priorities, and encourage a wider public appreciation of the role of those skills in contributing to a vibrant and sustainable future for Scotland’s construction industry.  The total cost of the National Conservation Centre is expected to be in the region of £3 million; the Young Scots Fund will provide a contribution towards this.  

  • Forth Valley College is undertaking an ambitious estates strategy with plans to develop and upgrade across all its campuses including two new campuses in Alloa  and Stirling. The Stirling Campus is set to open in April 2012 and will  offer state-of-the-art facilities in modern, dynamic learning environments and will increase the education and training opportunities available to thousands of learners in the Forth Valley area and beyond.

Notes for editors

  • The new apprenticeship commitment was announced by Ms Hyslop in March this year and  is part of a wider initiative to place traditional building skills at the heart of Scotland’s construction industry and help boost economic growth.


  • 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.

  • The new apprenticeships were developed as part of The Strategy ‘Traditional Building Skills’ : A Strategy for sustaining and developing traditional building skills. This has been developed by Historic Scotland with Skills Development Scotland, Sector Skills Council and Construction Skills


  • Forth Valley College is undertaking an ambitious estates strategy with plans to develop and upgrade across all its campuses including two new campuses in Alloa  and Stirling. The Stirling Campus is set to open in April 2012 and will  offer state-of-the-art facilities in modern, dynamic learning environments and will increase the education and training opportunities available to thousands of learners in the Forth Valley area and beyond.  



For further information


Jennifer Johnston-Watt
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8070 or 07827 956 866
jennifer.johnstonwatt@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

Laura McCarvill
Marketing Officer
Forth Valley College
01324 403125
laura.mccarvillforthvalley.ac.uk