Skills shortage puts heritage sites at risk
21 April 2017
BRITAIN’S HISTORIC buildings are at risk due to a restoration skills crisis, warns the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
A new YouGov survey commissioned by RICS has found that 91% of the British public believe historic buildings are symbolic of Britain’s heritage. However, despite the public’s love for these buildings, the majority don't understand the specialist skills needed to restore and preserve them.
For example, 83% are not knowledgeable about what a historic building surveyor does, and 80% do not know what a roof thatcher’s job entails. Awareness of age-old building professions is fading away amongst the younger generation, with only one in 10 of 18-24 year-olds able to describe the job of a stonemason, and only 16% know what a glass blower does.
This lack of awareness comes at a time when the industry as a whole is facing a skills shortage in the built environment, with the latest figures from the RICS Construction Market Survey showing that the skills gap reported by professionals across the construction sector increased from 2% in 2012 to 43% in 2016.
RICS has stated that to ensure that these crucial skills are not lost and cherished historic buildings don’t fall into disrepair, a stronger pipeline of talent is needed.
A statement read: “It’s important that craft skills are developed in addition to the continual promotion of professional skills, as the two skillsets are intrinsically linked to create any successful construction project.
“RICS is calling on the government and industry bodies to continue to concentrate their efforts on inspiring young people to pursue a career in the sector and educate them on the importance of mastering and maintaining the skills needed to preserve our historic buildings.”