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Traditional skills qualification launched

12 November 2007

Culture Minister Linda Fabiani MSP today launched the first qualification in masonry conservation in Scotland.

Speaking at Trades Hall in Glasgow, Ms Fabiani said: “Scotland’s architecture plays a vital role in our identity, culture and heritage and it is imperative that we maintain it. To do this we have to make sure that the people working on our built heritage are appropriately trained and qualified”.

“The National Progression Award in Conservation of Masonry is the result of bringing together conservation specialists, training providers and the construction industry to  create a qualification that gives all in the sector a better understanding of how to work on our existing buildings, which account for a huge amount of building work and investment in Scotland.”

Historic Scotland worked with the NPA Steering Group, Scottish Qualifications Authority and the Professional and Operational Validation Boards to shape the qualification, which will be delivered at various locations, including Glasgow Metropolitan College.

Repair and maintenance work makes up almost half of the Scottish construction industry activity. In 2005 that accounted for £3.01 billion, compared to £3.5 billion spent on new build work.

The Minister was joined at the launch by Gary McDonald, the first Scottish candidate to be awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund bursary in conservation of masonry.

Ms Fabiani added: “There has been a lot of research carried out into the scale of the traditional skills training shortage in Scotland over the last few years and today marks a turning point. This qualification will make a real difference in addressing the trade skills shortages, and ensuring that the building expertise that has shaped Scotland’s communities and environment continues and thrives.”

The National Progression Award consists of a series of modules, including: stone matching and selection, repairs to stone elevations and features, chimney repairs, re-pointing stone walls in lime, batching mortars and making repair assessments.  It is the equivalent of an SVQ level 3.     

Graeme Ogilvy, Director for Construction Skills Scotland and Depute Chair, Learn Direct and Build, said: “Historic Scotland must be congratulated for leading the development of this new award. This new SQA award, together with the Learn Direct & Build learning solutions that are being created to deliver it will transform the efficiency, effectiveness and delivery of the repair and conservation of stonework.

“I hope to see the early development of similar awards in other craft and professional areas to continue this progress in meeting the traditional skills shortages associated with the conservation, repair and maintenance of Scotland’s pre 1919 building stock.”


Notes for editors

  1. 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.
  2. The Technical Conservation, Research and Education Unit within the agency publishes a range guidance and advice suitable for professional and non-professionals interested in maintaining traditionally built properties. These publications can be found at www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/conservation
  3. In 2006 Historic Scotland secured £1 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to provide training bursaries in masonry conservation.
  4. Following the launch images will be available from Lesley Brown by emailing lesley.brown@scotland.gsi.gov.uk.
  5. Additional quotes from training partners are also available on request.

For further information


Lesley Brown
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8603 or 07788 923873
lesley.brown@scotland.gsi.gov.uk