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From the organisers of

A qualified workforce : Carded

3 November 2015
Mark Priestman writes a column on training.

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!


Of late our consultancy has been inundated with enquiries about and enrolment on to the NVQ Level 3 diploma in Occupational Work Supervision.

CSCS’s drive to ensure that all workers have the right card for the job they are doing naturally necessitates that foremen, site supervisors and site managers are correctly qualified and carded like everyone else.

Watch this space but it appears the powers that be are going to be checking this with increased scrutiny.


Well, as you no doubt saw in last month’s NSS, it’s all change at the National Heritage Training Group (NHTG). The CITB decided it is going to close its chequebook to the organisation from the end of the year.

Historically, core funding for the NHTG has been provided by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). It cites its reason for withdrawing its financial backing as its belief that heritage training is better served by funding industry training groups.

Ray Robertson, chairman of the NHTG, and his fellow board members naturally disagree. Ray states: “More than ever, the heritage skills and traditional building crafts sector needs its own strong and influential voice if it is to continue its battle for recognition and support. As the construction industry continues to recover from recession, the alarming skills gaps in the heritage sector previously identified by NHTG have become obvious to all.”

Cathie Clarke, the General Manager, is well known to many of us from a variety of conservation roles, including the Heritage Skills Hub. Cathie took up the management role a year or so ago and has energetically promoted the need for heritage skills cards across to industry. Cathie will retain her role on a part-time basis and also becomes CEO at the Single Ply Roofing Association.

A master stroke of Cathie’s was to develop a search portal for heritage skills training providers. This can be found at:

Ray Robertson has said the NHTG can operate for another three years with its current resources, although recently he has spoken out requesting offers of interest for funding. Willing and able parties can contact NHTG at [email protected].

Long-term, though, the NHTG will need to decide how it will redefine itself. It is difficult to see how it can maintain a mandate to represent the sector unless it either becomes a membership organisation of some kind or is appointed by bodies such as the federations or the likes of Historic England, Historic Scotland and Cadw. If it takes on sponsorship from businesses if will be difficult to continue to appear to be independent.

It is yet to be seen how the diversion of funds to the industry training groups will affect what our own Natural Stone Industry Training Group can offer you. Of course, it will be welcome if increased funding becomes available to contractors for their training and assessment needs.

One thing is for sure, if we desire a larger take up of the CSCS Heritage Card our sector’s employers need incentivising to qualify their workforce.


Employers of workers who have achieved a college diploma in Banker Masonry in the past year can apply for up to £3,000 of funding from the CITB to progress the worker through an NVQ so they can obtain the CSCS Skilled Worker Card.

There is a maximum of five applicants for funding from any one company and the company must be CITB registered. Find out more by emailing [email protected].

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. Mobile: 07876 687212

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