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First apprentices announced for new traditional skills strategy

23 February 2012

Iain McFadden from Stonehaven, who currently works at Arbroath Abbey, is set to join Historic Scotland’s traditional building skills training scheme.The first of 30 new apprentices to be appointed under Historic Scotland’s commitment to put traditional skills at the heart of the nation’s construction industry have been announced today.

Michael Hogg from Inverness, and Iain McFadden from Stonehaven, are the first of ten apprentices to be confirmed this year to take up a placement.

The apprenticeships are aimed at helping boost Scotland’s economic recovery, and have been created to help ensure traditional skills lie at the heart of a sustainable future for the nation’s traditional building stock.

The new apprentices will take up work placements, ahead of joining the first class to go through a stonemasonry qualification, either at Historic Scotland’s workshops in Elgin, or at the new purpose-built facility at Forth Valley College, Stirling, which is due to open later this year.

The Government strategy, “Traditional Building Skills: A strategy for sustaining and developing traditional building skills in Scotland” has been developed by Historic Scotland, with Skills Development Scotland, the Sector Skills Council and Construction Skills.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said: “Traditional building skills are valuable in preserving our economic and cultural assets, and I welcome the news of these first apprenticeships.

“Scotland’s historic environment contributes more than £2.3 billion to the Scottish economy, and is a key factor in sustaining economic growth. A major part of that historic environment are the traditional buildings we live and work in.

“We have lost some of the skills and techniques that helped create our traditional buildings, and it is essential we halt that decline.”

Michael (23), who took up a labouring post with Historic Scotland in September last year, was delighted to be successful in gaining one of the placements.

Currently based at Fort George, near Inverness, he said: “I’ve always worked outside, and it was after I enjoyed a six-month job on dry stone dyking that I decided I wanted to become a stone mason.

“I’d heard about the high quality of training offered by Historic Scotland, and once I finish my course, I hope to continue my career with the agency, particularly in building projects.”

Iain (47), who previously managed a picture framing company before taking up a post as a labourer with Historic Scotland two years ago, is  currently based at Arbroath Abbey. He said has an artistic eye and had always wanted to work with stone.

“To be working for Historic Scotland is a privilege,” he said. “Often when we go to a job on a site, the last person to work on the monument was the person who built it. It’s very satisfying to think that what we do will be there for generations to come.”

During the course of their apprenticeships, Michael and Iain will learn the full range of stone masonry skills, including cutting, hewing, building and pointing.

Historic Scotland’s commitment to the Traditional Building Skills strategy and the 30 new apprenticeships is being consolidated with the stone masonry training facility at Forth Valley College, plus a new National Conservation Centre in Stirling.

Work to design the Centre, which aims to lead the world in the conservation, scientific study and digital scanning of traditional buildings, is already underway.

Notes for editors

  • 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 Year of Creative Scotland began on January 1, 2012 and will spotlight and celebrate Scotland’s cultural and creative strengths on a world stage. Through a dynamic and exciting year-long programme of activity celebrating our world-class events, festivals, culture and heritage, the year puts Scotland’s culture and creativity in the international spotlight with a focus on cultural tourism and developing the events industry and creative sector in Scotland. More information about the programme can be found at:

  • The Year of Creative Scotland is a Scottish Government initiative led in partnership by EventScotland, VisitScotland, Creative Scotland and VOCAL. More information and resources to help businesses engage with Year of Creative Scotland are available at

Year of Creative 2012

For further information

David Gray
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8588 or 07854 366 805