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Back to the future : Traditional skills showcase

19 May 2014

Apprentices are encouraging the Edinburgh public to come see a range of traditional skills being demonstrated at a two-day showcase in the capital.

Students from all over Scotland have taken over the city’s St Andrew’s Square as part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2014. Stalls have been set up for the nine students to deliver demonstrations in traditional skills such roofing, stonemasonry, joinery, painting and decorating, and decorative plasterwork.

Historic Scotland, which has organised the event along with a range of public and private sector partners, has a strong commitment to offering opportunities, having recruited 58 traditional building skills apprentices over the last six years. The two-day showcase is intended to raise awareness of a career in these vital skills, as well highlighting the work being done to maintain the historic environment.

Over the two days, members of the public are encouraged to meet the trainees as they demonstrate their skills in customised display tents. Advisers are on hand to outline the opportunities which exist within the sector for would-be apprentices, and to explain how to access the various schemes available. Property owners may also be interested to hear advice on how using traditional methods and materials can enhance their property.

David Welwood, Historic Scotland masonry apprentice said: “I love being an apprentice, so it’s great to get the opportunity to meet people who might be interested in following the same career path, and showing them what it’s all about”.  

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, who visited the event, taking part in several of the demonstrations, said: “After meeting the apprentices today, I was hugely encouraged by their enthusiasm for their trades as well as their appreciation of the fantastic opportunities which these apprenticeships can offer.”

“Scotland has an incredible historic built environment, with over 400,000 traditionally constructed buildings in the country. This heritage requires a huge amount of traditional skills expertise to maintain and nurture it. Events like this serve to highlight the good work already been done to do this but, more importantly, raises awareness of the need to attract the next generation of experts to safeguard the future.”

The 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.

Scottish Apprenticeship Week is led by Skills Development Scotland. Chief Executive, Damien Yeates, said: “Scottish Apprenticeship Week highlights the commitment of businesses that have decided to invest in the skills of their workforce. The week also showcases the successes of apprentices who have chosen to develop their careers by learning while working, to gain nationally recognised qualifications.

“Modern Apprenticeships are good for business, good for individuals and good for the Scottish economy.”

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 19 to 23, 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.

  • Scotland welcomes the world in the Year of Homecoming 2014 providing a year-long programme of events alongside the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games. The Year of Homecoming Scotland will run until 31 December 2014 throughout the length and breadth of the country. Visitors from around the world are invited to join in a celebration of the nation’s food and drink, active pursuits, cultural heritage, nature and ancestral heritage. Homecoming Scotland 2014 is a Scottish Government initiative being led by EventScotland and VisitScotland, supported by numerous partners. To find out more visit For more on Historic Scotland’s Homecoming activities visit or tweet us using #hshomecoming.

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For further information

Alan Bannon
Historic Scotland Media Office
0131 668 8588 or 07854 366 805