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Apprenticeships are key to the country's economic recovery

21 March 2011

Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop has announced 30 new traditional building apprenticeships as part of the Government’s strategy to put traditional building skills at the heart of Scotland’s construction industry and boost economic recovery.

The 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, Sector Skills Council and Construction Skills.

The strategy promotes traditional building skills as key to looking after the economic asset that is Scotland’s traditional building stock, contributing to sustainable economic growth and meeting the Government’s target for carbon reduction.

The strategy aims to:

  • support the construction sector and the public by promoting a better understanding of the value of traditional building skills and their relevance to our current building stock
  • improve the standard, consistency and availability of skills training to ensure the supply of skills, training and qualifications are responsive to what is needed for future success
  • make traditional building skills a key priority for Historic Scotland as the lead body for the historic environment in Scotland
  • create a better understanding of and capability to demonstrate the relevance of traditional skills to our current building stock in terms of energy efficiency, sustainability and conservation gain
  • double the number of apprentices currently working with Historic Scotland around the country which provides an important role to play in sustaining traditional skills in the sector

Launching the strategy after meeting Historic Scotland apprentices at Croft an Righ behind the Palace of Holyrood, the Minister said: “Scotland’s historic environment contributes more than £2.3 billion to the Scottish economy and is key factor in ensuring sustained economic growth. A key part of that historic environment are the traditional buildings that we live and work in.

“Traditional building skills are valuable in preserving our economic and cultural assets and are increasingly important as viable sustainable skills for the future. We have lost some of the traditional skills and techniques that made Scotland what it was and it is essential that we halt that decline and re-learn skills which have been lost.

“Increasingly we are realising the benefits of traditional forms of construction and there are new opportunities in adapting traditional buildings to meet our climate change aspirations, but also in using traditional building techniques for sustainable new build. Buildings using local materials and maintained by local labour contribute both economically and in sustainability terms to Scotland’s future. Traditional buildings make up 19% of the Scottish housing stock and the use of local materials, and the jobs and apprenticeships that go with such activity, will also have significant benefits for rural development and employment.

This will deliver wider sustainability measures and help the Scottish Government in its target to reduce carbon emissions and improving the country’s carbon usage.”

In addition, Historic Scotland in looking to consolidate its traditional building skills training and is currently working with Stirling Council and Forth Valley College with the aim of creating a national conservation centre within the next two years.  

Councillor Scott Farmer, Depute Stirling Council Leader and Portfolio Holder for Economy, Tourism and Finance said: “Traditional skills must be a key focus for Scotland and we are in early discussions with Historic Scotland to assess opportunities of establishing a National Conservation Centre in Stirling. We are looking to create a long term strategy which will drive conservations skills in the country.”

Linda McKay, Principal of Forth Valley College, added: “We are delighted to see national recognition for traditional building skills in Scotland and have had very productive discussions with Historic Scotland over the ways in which Forth Valley College can support this vital sector.  

“We have extensive experience of vocational training and skills in sectors like construction and creative industries and with our new campus opening in Stirling next year we have a lot to offer in implementing the strategy.”

The historic environment directly supports around 41,000 jobs within the heritage sector, construction industry and tourism and is estimated to contribute more than £2.3 billion to Scotland.  This makes it a significant contributor to our sustainable economic well-being and provides yet another reason to celebrate our historic legacy. The research by industry body HEACS found that the historic environment:

  • Supports more than 60,000 full time employees
  • Contributes in excess of £2.3 billion to Scotland’s GVA (gross value added)
  • Supports 20,000 employees in the construction industry and 37,000 in tourism
  • Accounts for 2.5 per cent of Scotland’s total employment.

The Minister added: “The key message here is that further investment in the historic environment will assist in the country’s overall economic recovery. The repair and maintenance sector remains sound , which is particularly significant given the current economic climate. We are creating a strategy for investment in the built heritage construction sector, creating and securing more jobs, contributing to regeneration and improving Scotland’s historic buildings and surrounding local communities.

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. For more information visit
  • To view the Skills Strategy go to
  • The economic impact report was prepared by the industry body, HEACS and can be viewed at
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For further information

Lisa Nicholson
Communications and Media Manager
Communications and Media
0131 668 8852 or 07500 065 438