needle-and-loomThe Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has announced it is to invest an additional £7.3m to support a wide range of specialist skills and training opportunities within the heritage sector.  This will deliver up to 1,000 paid training opportunities for people seeking a career in heritage and will include specialist skills ranging from horticulture to conservation and web design.

HLF is taking a two-tiered approach to this investment:

£2.3m will be invested quickly with current grantees as an extension of HLF’s successful £7m Training Bursary Programme, which has funded programmes in archaeology, conservation, reed and sedge cutting,millwrighting, hedging,  and traditional building skills amongst others;

£5m will create a new programme, entitled ‘Skills for the Future’, to launch towards the end of the year. This will offer new work-based training in the skills that are needed to look after our buildings, landscapes, habitats, species, and museum collections.  This could include training education and outreach officers, volunteer managers and people who need new technology skills to help the public learn about our heritage and play an active part in its future.

Dame Jenny Abramsky, Chair of the HLF, said: “More than ever in these difficult times, HLF wants to focus on offering people skills that will give them a future career and at the same time meet the needs of the sector. I believe passionately that heritage can play a significant part in economic recovery. This immediate cash injection followed by a wider commitment over the longer term will ensure our heritage is protected for the future and represents a hugely exciting chance to attract people who might not usually consider a career within it.”

£2.3m to current HLF applicants
The first tranche of investment of £2.3m will provide an extension of HLF’s current Training Bursary Programme, enabling up to 150 additional training places to be created straight away with current grantees. These places will provide accredited on-the-job training by highly skilled crafts people and environmental specialists.

Sarah Heaffey, Training Bursary Project Manager of the Broads Authority, said: “No-one can underestimate the importance of skills to maintaining our historic landscapes and buildings but there is such a severe shortage of skilled people to look after them. The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads, which are a huge magnet for tourism, really struggle to retain local craftspeople. HLF funding has already helped us to maintain crafts such as reed and sedge cutters and millwrights, and this money will go even further to ensure we’re able to preserve all that makes the Broads so distinctive long into the future.”

£5m into ‘Skills for the Future’
The immediate investment is to be followed by a further £5m for a new programme, entitled ‘Skills for the Future’, to be launched later in the year.  As well as delivering traditional heritage skills, this scheme will aim to equip organisations to engage with the widest possible range of people and inspire them to get involved with heritage.  It might include training in how to best work with schools, young people and communities and teaching skills such as how to use new technology to bring heritage sites and collections alive for new audiences.

Organisations will be able to apply for funding for a number of traineeships over a period of up to five years.  The criteria and priorities are currently being developed but the emphasis will be on high-quality practical work-based training.

HLF’s Training Bursary Programme – the success story so far
HLF’s Training Bursary Programme has been a resounding success story, providing over 300 people so far with high-quality on-the-job accredited training over a range of 50 skill sets in craft and conservation.  89% of those who completed placements in 2008-09 went on to secure jobs in the heritage sector.

The programme was designed to produce craftspeople with skills in danger of being lost, such as lime plastering, reed and sedge cutting, blacksmithing and biological recording or to support specialist skills, such as in archaeology or horticulture.  The 10 schemes have not only had a great impact on the heritage itself, but they have also developed innovative training models, piloted new qualifications and created excellent new working partnerships.

The details of the new £5m programme ‘Skills for the Future’ will be announced before the end of 2009 when the programme will open to applicants.