Conservation repairs in progress on a Historic England Heritage at Risk grant project to Marsden Lime Kilns, South Tyneside.
Conservation repairs in progress on a Historic England Heritage at Risk grant project, Marsden Lime Kilns, South Tyneside © Historic England
Conservation repairs in progress on a Historic England Heritage at Risk grant project, Marsden Lime Kilns, South Tyneside © Historic England

Building Skills and Training into Conservation Projects

Conservation projects offer great opportunities to build in skills and training for those working on the project. On this page, you can find out more about how to plan and deliver activities, explore case studies and learn about the benefits.

What are the benefits?

The benefits of providing skills and training activities include:

  • Improving the knowledge and experience of trainees or the existing workforce
  • Developing the skills and knowledge of people involved in your project
  • Promoting careers in heritage
  • Making your project more attractive to grant funders and providing opportunities for fundraising
  • Increased publicity for your project

Including skills and training in projects can stimulate demand for traditional building skills. It also helps address skills gaps and shortages identified in our research.

What are the options?

There are a variety of training approaches depending on the scale of your project and which audiences you want to engage with. 

The National Lottery Heritage Fund Training Best Practice Guide also includes ideas and advice.

Viewing works in progress and practical, peer to peer learning are popular with this audience. Your project can be used to up-skill workers and to help them work towards qualifications. Your project can also help workers meet their professional body’s Continuous Professional Development (CPD) requirements. You could run hard hat site tours, presentations, workshops, and training days. These activities provide a chance to learn from contractors and professionals about the materials, techniques and skills involved in the project.

Colleges and other organisations can get involved in one-off events. You could offer them hands-on taster sessions or set up a longer partnership providing practical, on-site learning.

Many projects have offered work placements. These range in duration from work experience lasting 1 week to longer term up-skilling placements leading to qualifications. You can also offer work placements to those on existing training programmes and bursary schemes.

There is strong demand and enthusiasm from the public to get behind the scenes and see conservation works in progress. You could set up scaffold viewing platforms, heritage skills events, on-site demonstrations, hard hat tours or behind the scenes open days. The conservation works can also be showcased through on-site signage, newsletters, videos and social media.

How to plan and deliver activities

It is important to plan early. Once you know what type of activities you want to deliver, you can plan for the costs and resources required. Plan your activities to match the duration, scale, and resources available to the project. This helps to ensure that they are realistic to deliver. It is also important to consider the long-term plan for your project and its outcomes.

Our grant pages include information on the types of grants available for historic environment projects. One of our grant priorities is to enable activities that encourage better understanding, management and conservation of the historic environment.

Many training activities need the main contractor to be involved to deliver them. Experience from the projects highlighted below shows the benefits of incorporating planned activities into the tender and contract documents. To do this, draft clauses that give an outline description and quantities of the activities to be delivered. They need to set out what you require from the contractor, including health and safety management, risk assessments, evidence of insurances, gaining the cooperation of sub-contractors, and steps for monitoring progress.

The Churches Conservation Trust has produced a guide that includes example contract clauses and event and training templates.

Case studies

The following case studies and examples of training-led projects are drawn from a range of organisations. They illustrate the range of activities that could be delivered on a project, explain how the activities were delivered, give practical lessons learned and feedback from those involved in the projects.