RICS and YouGov headline how specialist skills shortage generates risk for buildings

RICS news 12 April 2017A new RICS and YouGov survey warns that historic buildings are at risk due to a restoration skills crisis threatening their future.

RICS writes:

Britain’s beloved historic buildings are at risk, due to a restoration skills crisis that threatens the future of some of our best-known national treasures, warns a RICS and YouGov survey.

According to the survey, 9 in 10 people (91%) agreed that buildings such as Windsor Castle and Kensington Palace are symbols of the country’s heritage. This sentiment is strong across all age groups, including millennials, with 89% of 18-24 year-olds appreciating the importance of historic buildings. The vast majority of the population (89%) also believe that that these iconic treasures should be preserved for future generations. However, despite the public’s love for these buildings, the majority don’t understand the specialist skills needed to restore and preserve them. For example, 83% are not knowledgeable about what a historic building surveyor does, and 80% do not know what a roof thatcher’s job entails.

Awareness of age-old building professions is fading away amongst the younger generation, with only 1 in 10 18-24 year-olds able to describe the job of a stonemason, and only 16% know what a glass blower does. This lack of awareness comes at a time when the industry as a whole is facing a skills shortage in the built environment, with the latest figures from the RICS Construction Market Survey showing that the skills gap reported by professionals across the construction sector increased from 2% in 2012 to 43% in 2016.

Matthew Howell, RICS Managing Director for UK & Ireland said:

‘It’s fantastic to see that so many people care about our historic buildings, especially young people. However, without a pipeline of talent developing expertise in these specialist areas, these landmarks could be left in ruin. We need the next generation to understand the role of a historic building surveyor, and the craft of a stonemason or glassblower to preserve this heritage for the future.’ And that ‘The government and industry bodies must continue to work together and raise awareness of the wide-range of opportunities available in the industry and create more routes into the sector for young people, including investing in quality apprenticeships that lead to roles such as qualified building surveyors who specialize in conservation projects.’

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