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Scotland’s traditional building skills key to protecting historic landscape

20 July 2012

Traditional Skills agreement

An agreement to ensure that Scotland has world-class training to protect our unique historic landscape has been signed by two of the leading providers of traditional building skills.

Historic Scotland, the national heritage agency, and CITB-ConstructionSkills, the sector skills council and industry training board for UK construction, have committed to an action plan to give generations the skills they need to maintain buildings across the country.

The Sector Skills Agreement was signed at Historic Scotland’s new state-of-the-art stonemasonry training facility at Forth Valley College in Stirling.

In September the first intake of ten new Historic Scotland apprentices will begin training at Forth Valley College as part of a Scottish Government commitment to provide 30 traditional skills apprenticeships over three years.

Graeme Ogilvy, CITB-ConstructionSkills Director – Scotland, said;

“Construction plays a very significant role in Scotland’s economy, together with Historic Scotland we can help ensure that we have the right skills in the right place at the right time for the repair, maintenance and improvement of this very important part of our built environment.

“Traditionally built structures contribute considerably to Scotland’s economy, not only by providing an obvious draw for tourists attracted to castles and palaces, these structures are often our homes, our places of work and much of the infrastructure used daily.

“They are part of Scotland’s culture and help provide a sense of place; they also reflect the diverse geography, as traditionally built structures are constructed with local indigenous materials that require distinct skills and knowledge to work.

“It is imperative that this built heritage is repaired and maintained and that it is done so correctly, as using inappropriate materials and methods has proven to be more damaging and costly in the long term.”

Our built heritage plays a key role in supporting Scotland’s economy and recognising the importance of traditional building skills will ensure it contributes positively to Scotland’s economy. It is also vital that the products and methods designed to improve the energy efficiency of the existing building stock are applied sympathetically to avoid unnecessary damage.

David Mitchell, Historic Scotland Director of Conservation, said;

“We already have an excellent working relationship with CITB-ConstructionSkills that has been invaluable in raising awareness of traditional skills issues and developing qualifications that can assist construction employers in ensuring their workforce has appropriate skills.

“This is vital, the built environment needs the right knowledge and skills across all levels of employment in the sector to encourage good and appropriate repair work. Traditionally built structures account for around 20 per cent of Scotland’s total infrastructure and they continue to play an important role in the sustainable development of our country.

“I am particularly delighted that we have been able to meet today at our new facility in Forth Valley College that will give an unprecedented number of apprentices the opportunity to learn how to properly repair and maintain our incredible historic architecture.

“This will see them gain the skills needed to work on famous buildings like Stirling and Edinburgh castles, but also to be able to recognise the specialist techniques and materials used in vernacular buildings across Scotland’s communities which can be the cornerstone of regeneration projects.”

This commitment from both partners will establish a world-leading system of traditional skills training that meets the needs of a modern, innovative and competitive construction sector; a key commitment in the Traditional Skills Strategy launched by Scottish Ministers in April 2011.

Notes for editors

About CITB-ConstructionSkills

CITB-ConstructionSkills is the Industrial Training Board (ITB) for the construction industry in Great Britain (Scotland, England and Wales). We are working to ensure that construction employers have the right skills, in the right place, at the right time by investing funds and providing a wide range of industry-led skills and training solutions.

We are also a partner in CITB-ConstructionSkills, the Sector Skills Council (SSC) for the UK construction industry, and we are raising employer engagement in training, providing labour market insights on future skills needs and developing standards and qualifications for the sector.

As an ITB and SSC, CITB-ConstructionSkills is providing vital support to a sector, which is central to the UK economy.

1.For more information and advice on conserving traditional buildings visit

2.The Traditional Building Skills strategy sets out how Historic Scotland will increase the work it does in developing stronger and better ways to teach traditional skills, with the aim of ensuring this expertise is readily available across Scotland for many years to come, making a positive contribution to the country’s economy. It can be accessed at

3.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. For more information visit  

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5.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:

6.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

For further information

Lesley Brown
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8603 or 07920 768 096