Heritage skills initiative in Newcastle Upon Tyne
The Heritage Skills Initiative has been running at North of England Civic Trust since November 2006. It was set up after a series of reports drew attention to the shortage of skilled heritage craftspeople available to maintain the region’s built environment and engineering heritage. It has worked with organisations, charities, educational establishments, professionals, craftspeople, students, teachers and the general public to raise awareness of and promote educational and training opportunities in traditional heritage skills. The programmes have been developed against a sound educational methodology to ensure a wide participation from schoolchildren through to professionals, enhancing their understanding for both the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the region. The project has achieved a reputation for raising the profile of heritage skills and providing opportunities for everyone to participate.
Since its foundation, Heritage Skills Initiative has delivered 150,000 hours of training and engagement with over 37,000 people. Its activities range from Taster Days, master classes, lectures, conferences to a variety of tailor-made events; also there have been 11 building bursaries of over 6 months’ duration and 53 heritage engineering bursaries of 12 months’ duration. 91% of the engineering trainees continued into heritage and engineering employment. 40% of the participants for practical hands-on training are women. In addition, nearly 400 children between 13 and 15, from 25 schools, have taken part in the programme.
The Jury hailed the substantial contribution made by the Heritage Skills Initiative in raising awareness of the built environment in the North East of England and Cumbria: assessing training needs and delivering a varied programme with opportunities for all ages, from school children to students and professionals needing to develop their knowledge of specific heritage skills. The participatory, sustainable and creative ways to address a regional challenge are inspirational. The Heritage Skills Initiative creates structured means for people to understand and be involved in caring for their regional heritage, and perhaps even to consider it as a career.