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From the organisers of

A qualified workforce

18 October 2012
Mark Priestman explains the Memorandum of Understanding.

Mark Priestman has more than 20 years’ experience in the natural stone sector. He plays an active role in the development and delivery of training in this specialist environment. Along with his father, David Priestman, he runs a training consultancy whose mantra is: Qualify the Workforce!

“What’s the Memorandum of Understanding?” I hear you ask.

Well, this document, signed off by a Parliamentary Group, ConstructionSkills, English Heritage and the National Heritage Training Group (NHTG), provides a powerful insight into the focus placed on a CSCS carded workforce.

The document agrees 10 principles applying to ALL clients, property managers, planners, craftspeople and professionals working in the heritage and pre-1919 built environment.

Err, that’s pretty much you and me and him sat next to you!

Principle 4 is worth highlighting: The need to appoint knowledgeable, qualified and experienced sector professionals for all aspects of pre-1919 building projects. Principle 6 qualifies that by adding: Working towards a CSCS carded workforce… including the CSCS heritage skills cards for those working on all built heritage projects and sites.

You might want to share some of these thoughts with your client’s representatives next time they consider letting loose Bodge-it & Scarper General Builders on their listed treasure.

Yes, CSCS can be a hassle. But if empowered as the promise suggests, it’s also a protection for our qualified craftspeople.

It might mean NVQs, touch screen tests and application fees, but our sector already has the skills, for most it will just be a question of brushing up on the paperwork, licking the stamp and mailing off the application.

A stronger CSCS should equal a reduction in cowboy trading. I’ve seen it in London, where the scheme is insisted upon and better policed than it is generally in the rest of the country.

Principle 10 calls for: The support and development of integrated education and training programmes and CPD, to share knowledge and understanding between contractors, craftspeople and professionals.

The NHTG Industry Training Group has this in hand with its soon-to-be-delivered two-day Conservation Philosophies Awareness CPD.

Those successful will also achieve the QCF unit ‘Understanding Maintenance and Repair of Pre-1919 Buildings’.

The Conservation Philosophies Awareness CPD is designed for craftspeople (that don’t yet have their heritage CSCS card), managers and supervisors. It is also for support staff who rarely get out of the office in order to aid their awareness of the specialist sector the firm operates within.

There is some grant support available for in-scope employers, so call 0208 144 6214 to register your interest.

Shrewd readers will have noticed that of the four nations of the United Kingdom, only England, through English Heritage, is represented in the signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding.

Of course, the Parliamentary Group represents the whole of the UK as do ConstructionSkills and the NHTG. As I write, the NHTG is also busy making similar arrangements with the Scottish, Welsh and Irish counterparts of English Heritage.

Soon Billy the Kid and Matt Allwright will have no place to turn.

As for the Natural Stone sector, course development is advanced as we already have in existence a Specialist Apprenticeship Programme for Heritage Masons at Level 3. The tutorage is through Henry Rumbold MBE, the renowned stonemason who operates out of world heritage site Fountains Abbey and is NVQ assessed by David Priestman, champion of qualifications for the sector (and top dad!).

The Level 3 qualification can also be obtained through the experienced worker on-site assessment route, as can the new Level 3 NVQ Diploma in… (wait for it, because we certainly did have to wait for it)… in… Heritage Construction Façade Preservation!

If you are interested in these offerings, give me a shout.

Mark Priestman is a Partner at Priestman Associates LLP, a leading façade preservation project consultancy. From stonemasonry and heritage skills through to Site Supervision and Conservation Management, the partnership is trusted by the leading brands of the sector as an NVQ provider for experienced, upskiller and apprentice workers. 

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