£17m lottery boost for training in heritage skills

Image caption,
Some trainees will learn how to conserve and restore iron work

More than 800 training places are to be created in UK heritage projects under a £17m National Lottery scheme.

Trainees will learn traditional skills like dry-stonewalling and boat-building as part of an attempt to ensure such endangered techniques are preserved.

Modern skills, like digital archiving, will also be part of the training.

Dame Jenny Abramsky, chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said the scheme would help people secure future employment in tough economic times.

The £17m windfall for heritage projects announced on Tuesday is three times more than had been planned originally.

The increased funding has been possible because of a rise in sales of lottery tickets, now at their highest level for 10 years.

'Time of need'

The 808 on-the-job training placements will be spread across 54 different projects.

They include boat-building at the National Waterways Museum in Ellsmere Port, Cheshire, and hedgelaying at the Sheffield Wildlife Trust.

Sixteen trainees across the UK will be taught to conserve and restore historic ironwork by learning traditional blacksmithing skills.

Other placements will focus on 21st Century skills such as how to digitise archive material and how to use social media to bring heritage sites alive for visitors.

In association with the British Museum, several trainees will be taught the skills of a curator, learning how to handle and display precious artefacts.

Dame Jenny said the fund's money would help attract people to the heritage sector who otherwise would not have considered it.

"When the recession kicked in last year, we thought very hard about how the Heritage Lottery Fund could make a difference to people's lives at a time of real need," she said.

"The answer was an innovative and ambitious programme focusing on equipping people with practical skills to help them secure future employment.

"We have been astounded by the response which clearly shows a great hunger for skills training within our sector."

Minister for Tourism and Heritage John Penrose said: "This investment is a great way of giving people access to practical on-the-job training, at a time when we need to do all we can to give people a helping hand to follow their careers.

"Making sure we have a skilled workforce for the future will also help to protect the very best heritage from our past and I'm pleased this scheme will benefit projects in all corners of the UK."

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