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From the organisers of

A qualified workforce: The Natural Stone Industry Training Group – where were you?

16 September 2014
Let Mark Priestman help you with all your training needs.

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!

A little while ago I attended a frustrating meeting of the NSITG (Natural Stone Industry Training Group).

Why frustrating you may ask?

Well, it had nothing to do with the way the meeting was conducted. It had nothing to with who participated. And it had nothing to do with the venue we met at (thanks again to the Stonemasonry Department at Moulton College in Northamptonshire for their hospitality).

No, what I found frustrating was that you were not there!

(And, yes, I know some of you reading this were there, but most of you were not.)

Now, I know you are all very busy, but could I make a plea to stoneworks contractors all over the country to consider sending along one of the team?

Here’s why:

  1. It is the best opportunity for natural stone contractors to influence the CITB about the direction of training development for our sector
  2. CITB registered firms which attend the NSITG meetings get first notice of available training funding – such as the annual £25,000 training bursary that the group awards to contractors
  3. Attendance helps you stay ahead of the game by networking with other contractors, suppliers, training providers, the CITB and the Stone Federation’s Stonetrain brand.

In the meantime, I’d be delighted if you contacted me about this and any of the following calls to action at [email protected]


We are planning the next specialist training programme in Stone Fixing this autumn.

For CITB registered firms, the grant is more than generous, allowing for cost-neutral training. Time off-project is minimal, so please register your interest as soon as possible so you don’t miss out.

The NSITG also discussed its belief that the current Stone Fixing NVQ needs to include a provision for internal stone fixing operations (especially worktops) to make it relevant to those contractors in that field.

If you agree this is important you can petition the CITB. But you need to do it soon. If this affects your business, send me an email and I will tell you how to petition the CITB.


The NSITG is trying to develop a course directed at sector workers from two different backgrounds: professionals who have moved into the sector; and operative upskillers who are taking on drawing, estimating and surveying roles.

The course leads to NVQs at Level 3 and is called Stone Sector Professional Practice.

Again, the course will be cost-neutral for CITB registered firms.


By popular demand, we are looking at intake for the next specialist training programme in Facade Preservation.

This programme causes minimal interruption to your workers and leads to the Level 2 NVQ.

Great news for CITB-registered firms – the grant is much bigger than the fee!

Spaces for the September class are limited and going quickly, so register your interest now by getting an email off to me ([email protected]).


This is our new baby. Following a request from the sector, an industry approved specialist training programme has been produced and we are now inviting contractors to register their interest to enrol learners on the pilot. You can even possibly act as host for some of the practical modules.

Again, for CITB-registered firms, the grant outweighs the course fee, so please contact me as soon as possible to get your workers recognised NVQ qualifications and gain the kudos of being one of the first to pioneer this course for its trainees.


If any of these matters affect you and your business, please take time out to contact me about them.

If you have other training and qualification questions, needs or frustrations, or if you offer a course you think the readership might be interested in, I would be just as delighted to hear from you.

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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