2011 Yearbook

R E V I E W 21 painting and decorating. Developed by the Heritage and Conservation Team at ConstructionSkills with the support of the National Trust, English Heritage and individual trade federations, these two-day courses XJMM JODMVEF BO FYBNJOBUJPO 5IF trade federations will ultimately take ownership of these courses, promoting them to their members as a way of increasing knowledge and obtaining a qualification which can be cited on each individual’s ConstructionSkills $FSUJmDBUJPO 4DIFNF $4$4 DBSE Scrapping proper apprenticeships in the 1980s is often cited as the reason for the current skills shortage in the UK, and while that was a factor, the problem runs much deeper. Craftspeople have been trained in new construction alone and this continues to be the case with basic craft training at NVQ Level 2. Although new construction comprises just over half of the building industry’s output, it is the subject of 100 per cent of training and assessment. Change is needed and a feasibility study is taking place that will hopefully see all craft training at NVQ Level 2 incorporate elements of building maintenance and repair. This will be a major shift that will highlight the di"erence between construction and maintenance/repair BOE FYQMBJO UIF EJTUJODU SFRVJSFNFOUT of new and traditional buildings. While the developments set out above will go some way towards improving the supply of crafts skills, their success will be limited if the demand for them is not properly addressed too. Although the problem is being highlighted by major heritage organisations and by ConstructionSkills, more needs to be done. Some initiatives are being developed, but these are at an embryonic stage and without the commitment and support of mainstream professional institutions and course providers, initiatives to address the shortfall in the demand for appropriate craft skills simply will not succeed. At a time when the number of conservation o!cers is being reduced, many may find it di!cult to deal adequately with conservation areas. The issues raised in this article, however, highlight the need for vigilance and for conservation o!cers to provide greater support for mainstream consultants and contractors, if inappropriate work and skills are to be avoided. Conservation specialists and those responsible for work to protected buildings should also be doing more to support initiatives aimed at improving the calibre of craftspeople. Too few clients are demanding a CSCS carded workforce. Some conservation and heritage professionals say they can choose the right craftspeople without the need for the CSCS Heritage Skills Card, but looking at the bigger picture suggests that the majority of professionals are not very successful at choosing the right craftsperson for the right job at the right time. Ultimately, an appropriately qualified craft workforce will provide a base standard that should be su!cient for BMM UP SFMZ VQPO GSPN FYQFSJFODFE conservation professionals to the relatively uninformed mainstream professionals who currently seem to be doing the majority of the work on traditional buildings. There is little doubt that the public lacks confidence in the UK building industry. The CSCS Skills Card can help domestic clients choose contractors and craftspeople with confidence, but unless all professional clients support such initiatives, they will not take o" and little progress will be made in improving the way we care for traditional buildings and ensuring that the right skills are deployed at the right time. Many challenges lie ahead, including how we manage conservation, how we use our stock of traditional buildings and, most significant of all, how we address climate change. But if we can’t BEESFTT UIF FYQFSUJTF BOE TLJMM JTTVFT surrounding the basic maintenance and repair of one in five of the UK’s building stock, we can hardly be well placed to take on the job of retrofitting our traditional buildings in a sensitive and well-informed way. The UK building industry must first understand and practice the basics of maintenance and repair. Only when this has been mastered can we hope to guarantee the future of our traditional and historic buildings in a changing and uncertain environment. John Edwards MA DipBldgCons CEnv FCIOB FRICS IHBC holds a senior professional position in English Heritage’s conservation department and leads on professional and craft skills development including the validation of master craft courses. Unprotected terraced house Modern construction