Carve out a career in Heritage Skills

Date published: 27 July 2020

The Department for Communities’ Historic Environment Division (HED) in partnership with The Prince’s Foundation have today launched the NI Heritage Skills Programme.

The 10 month training programme bridges the gap between basic qualifications and becoming a master craftsperson in heritage and traditional building crafts.  Its aim is to begin to address the skill shortage of qualified heritage craftspeople in an effort to maintain our historic buildings. HED is responsible for 190 State Care monuments including Carrickfergus Castle, Navan Fort, Devenish Island monastic remains and the Derry Walls.

The programme will provide six training places to individuals who meet the required criteria and will comprise of training at both HED’s Heritage Skills Centre, Moira, and The Prince’s Foundation, Dumfries House, Scotland and include six months of work placements working on conservation building projects and State Care Monuments across Northern Ireland.

Successful participants will be awarded the scholarship covering the course fees and will receive a monthly bursary of £1,250 tax free, to cover travel expenses and living costs. This is a fixed term bursary.

Launching the programme Iain Greenway, Head of Historic Environment Division, said: “I am delighted that, in partnership with The Prince’s Foundation, we are able to launch this programme. Surveys in 2009 and 2018 showed a shortage of local skilled craftspeople. And yet our historic environment is so important to us in our communities, for our economy and for our wellbeing.  It supports our prosperity, strengthens our society and shapes our character. It is therefore at the heart of the work of the Department. This is an exciting programme which will involve remarkable work at landmark places.’

Simon Sadinsky, Executive Director of The Prince’s Foundation, said: “In the UK alone, there are more than six million buildings which were built before 1919 and many of them are in need of repair. A significant number of heritage craftspeople in the UK are nearing retirement age, meaning it’s more important than ever for traditional craft skills to be preserved through specialised training opportunities.


“The NI Heritage Skills Programme will enable six individuals to refine their skills to the highest standard by undertaking training and work placements across Northern Ireland and Scotland.”


The programme is also supported by Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) NI. Chief Executive Barry Neilson said: “Construction Industry Training Board NI is delighted to support the NI Heritage Skills Programme.  Training plays a vital role within the construction industry and programmes such as this are vital for growth and development.  The programme will provide essential support and encouragement for participants, who will have the opportunity to improve their skills and experience in heritage and traditional building crafts.  If you have the programme requirements and have an interest in this area we would encourage you to make an application.”

Applications for the NI Heritage Skills Programme are open until 28 August.  It is anticipated interviews will be held in September. For more information and to apply visit NI Direct

Notes to editors: 

  1. Photo captions are as follows:-
  • 001 - Blacksmith Owen Mort with Iain Greenway, Historic Environment Division Director within the Department for Communities and Philip O’Neill, Head of State Care  Operations pictured at Heritage Skills Centre, Moira for the NI Heritage Skills Programme launch.
  • 002 - Darren Sharratt, Manager Heritage Skills Centre, Moira pictured at Heritage Skills Centre, Moira for the NI Heritage Skills Programme launch. 
  • 003 - Conservation joiners George Irwin MBE and Alan Garrett pictured at Heritage Skills Centre, Moira for the NI Heritage Skills Programme launch.
  • 004- Blacksmith Owen Mort pictured at the Heritage Skills Centre, Moira for the NI Heritage Skills Programme launch.
  1. The programme is a full time 10 month course and training will run from October 2020 to August 2021.
  2. There are six positions to include three stone masons, two joiners and one blacksmith
  3. The programme is suitable for participants who have experience in one or more of the following trades; joinery, carpentry, metalwork, blacksmithing, stonemasonry and brickwork, either via college or on-site experience, but are looking to focus more specifically on heritage and traditional building crafts.
  4. Media enquiries to DfC Press Office
  5. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.
  6. Follow us on twitter @CommunitiesNI


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