Ecclesiastical and The Prince’s Foundation join forces to preserve future heritage skills

Specialist insurer, Ecclesiastical Insurance, has pledged £225,000 to the Building Crafts Programme (BCP) to support the training of traditional, and threatened, craft skills for future generations

Specialist insurer Ecclesiastical is supporting The Prince’s Foundation in its bid to prevent specialist trade skills disappearing.

Ecclesiastical, the leading insurer of Grade 1 listed buildings in the UK, has pledged £225,000 to The Prince’s Foundation over the next three years to enable 36 students to take part in the charity’s BCP.

The Prince’s Foundation established the course to help preserve valuable crafts skills, which are gradually being lost as the average age of workers in the historic buildings sector approaches retirement age.

The three-year partnership is the latest investment in traditional skills by Ecclesiastical, which supports a number of projects across the UK aimed at preserving the UK’s irreplaceable heritage for future generations.

Research from Historic England’s Heritage Counts 2017 publication showed a decade long decline in students signing up for heritage related construction courses. Ecclesiastical’s own research with heritage property owners showed that 42% were worried about the current shortage of skills in the UK, while 52% were concerned about the longer term impact and availability of skilled tradesmen in ten years’ time.

Faith Kitchen, Heritage Director at Ecclesiastical, said: “As a leading insurer of heritage buildings in the UK, we believe it is crucial to invest in crafts skills to preserve these irreplaceable buildings for the future. We’re proud to announce this partnership with The Prince’s Foundation, which will enable a new generation of craftspeople to gain knowledge and learn techniques that have been passed down over hundreds of years.”

The BCP is an eight-month course designed for craftspeople looking to bridge the gap between basic qualifications and becoming a master craftsperson working in the heritage sector, with the opportunity to gain NVQ Level 3 in Heritage Skills.

The students take part in craft workshops with master craftspeople including stonemasonry, joinery and timber framing, thatching, bricklaying and lime plastering.

The BCP takes place at The Prince’s Foundation’s locations in Shoreditch, London and Dumfries House, Ayrshire. During the BCP students complete a live build project at Dumfries House.

At the end of the course, there is the opportunity for placements on traditional building schemes and conservation projects across the UK. All of the students are offered employment or go on to undertake further training, with around 90% starting careers in craft skills immediately after completing the course.

Simon Sadinsky, Deputy Executive Director of Education at The Prince’s Foundation, said: “We are delighted to have Ecclesiastical’s support. The BCP offers a unique education combining learning from master craftspeople, working alongside and sharing knowledge with other trades, completing on-site live builds and experiencing valuable work placements. Ecclesiastical’s support will help us to continue to equip our young craftspeople with the education and skills required to design, build and preserve our local communities.”

Ecclesiastical is a proud supporter of heritage skills. The insurer sponsors the sustainable heritage master’s degree at University College London and the Cathedral Workshop Fellowship (CWF) based in Gloucester which provides a degree level qualification in stonemasonry.