Meet Pinnacle Conservation, Host Organisation for the Heritage Building Skills Programme

We ask Pinnacle Conservation about their role in hosting apprentices as part of the Heritage Building Skills Programme and how this can benefit employers and apprentices alike.

Why did you decide to take on an apprentice?

At Pinnacle Conservation, we believe that the traditional apprenticeship is the cornerstone of the construction industry. Combining practical knowledge, developed on site under the guidance of a competent and experienced professional, underpinned with academic and technical skills learnt at college provides a well-rounded individual primed to tackle the challenges of the industry. The relationship between the apprentice and mentor, where successful, provides benefits to all parties.

How did you find process of applying and taking on an apprentice?

The route for our apprentice alleviated us of most of the recruitment process which was great. We were involved in the final selection process, which was done using HE recruitment protocols, many of which we’d not been exposed to previously. Being a small company, when we recruit, we are generally aware of applicants’ background at interview stage. In this instance, to ensure fair process in the apprentice recruitment, we were not aware of the apprentice candidates’ background which left us free to make a judgement based on their individual performance in the interview and not be biased by previous assumptions. This process has now been adopted by the business as a new recruitment process.

What are the benefits of hiring an apprentice?

As alluded to above, when there is a successful bonding between apprentice and mentor, the relationship is symbiotic and provides benefits to both. Most importantly, we recognise the challenge we have in recruiting our industry’s future talent, particularly in the field of heritage roofing. Recruiting interested parties in traditional crafts such as heritage joinery and masonry is relatively simple, drumming up interest in more challenging parts of the sector such as heritage roofing is less so. By hiring apprentices, we are creating a succession plan for the continuation of the specialist skills within the business and wider conservation environment.

Would you recommend the experience to other heritage skills related employers?

Yes, it requires investment in providing adequate time to ensure the apprentice is suitably exposed to the right balance of work and training opportunities. Striking this balance between providing adequate exposure, whilst maintaining safety and quality requires constant monitoring and updating. When this balance is effectively achieved, the rewards for both business and apprentice are worth the effort. As a business owner, I believe we have an obligation to provide apprenticeships to ensure the future survival of these specialist skills.

What part do apprentices play in carrying on the art and practice of essential craft skills?

We are fortunate to have some highly experienced craftspeople in this business. We are acutely aware that, without the succession of suitable training schemes such as formal apprenticeships bringing forward this knowledge and experience, we will not have the necessary skills to continue with the work that we do. The duty of our mentors is to impart this knowledge onto their apprentices. To encourage the mentors to do this naturally, it is essential that apprentice shows willingness, enthusiasm, focus and effort.

Editor’s note: this programme was called The Hamish Ogston Foundation Heritage Building Skills Programme until October 2023.