A landmark decision by the English Heritage Executive Board has sent a clear message of support and endorsement for the CSCS Heritage Skills card.
The Board have agreed to modify their procurement rules by launching a pilot programme with immediate effect, whereby only contractors holding the CSCS Heritage Skills Specialist Leadworker card will now be engaged to work on significant EH projects involving lead sheet.
This positive response to a proposal submitted by EH Conservation Director Bill Martin, marks a successful conclusion to a long running campaign by the Lead Contractors Association (LCA), supported by the National Heritage Training Group (NHTG) and UNITE the Union, to have the specialist craftsman formally recognised and endorsed by the UK’s leading heritage client organisation.
Having achieved such a positive result for leadworkers, the challenge is now there for other craft trades to follow suit and achieve the required “critical mass” of heritage skills card holders for their sector.
English Heritage Director of Conservation Bill Martin said:
“Our recent decision to require the provision of CSCS Heritage cards for any craftsperson working on lead roofing projects on our estate to a value of £75k and over is testament to this great progress by the LCA.
“I hope that this decision will encourage other clients in the sector to do likewise and will of course send a strong message to the other crafts trades that provision of a properly trained and qualified workforce is something that will increasingly be recognised in procurement areas.”
Nigel Miles, new Chairman of the LCA, welcomed the pilot programme, which will run until 2015. He said:
“The backing of English Heritage by this landmark decision finally provides formal recognition for the specialist leadworker and we hope to now work with EH to quickly lower the minimum value so that by the end of the pilot programme in 2015, the requirement for CSCS Heritage Skills cardholders can be applied to all refurbishment projects as well as any repair and maintenance involving lead sheet of any significance.”
The decision also provides encouragement and a direct commercial incentive for other heritage crafts that now have the challenge of reaching the required “critical mass” of card holders in their own sector, in order to be similarly recognised by English Heritage.
Paul Simons, Chairman of the National Heritage Training Group, challenged other craft trades to quickly follow the leadworkers’ initiative. He said:
“The preservation of craft skills and knowledge is essential for the future of our built heritage, but this can only happen if demand for those skills is maintained by those charged with maintaining of our historic properties. I now look to other national organisations such as the National Trust, CADW and Historic Scotland as well as government and local authorities to follow the precedent set by English Heritage.”
As further support, the Heritage Lottery Fund have indicated that, whilst they are unable to make the Card a mandatory requirement for its grant programmes, they have agreed to raise awareness of the CSCS Heritage Skills Card and to promote its importance in their guidance for grant applicants.
Further information regarding the CSCS Heritage Skills Specialist Leadworker card can be obtained direct from the Construction Skills Certification Scheme or through the Lead Contractors Association (firstname.lastname@example.org tel: 01342 317888)