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24 C O N T E X T 1 5 7 : N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 8 DARREN BARKER Skills in partnership Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust focuses on training through partnerships in practical projects with universities, NGOs and other organisations in Europe and Asia. Like many coastal towns, Great Yarmouth suf- fers from a range of social and economic issues, not least high levels of unemployment and skills shortages. These are especially prevalent within the heritage and traditional skills sector. Yet there has been no shortage of work in the repair, conservation and maintenance of the town’s his- toric environment, and this work has either been undertaken by contractors from other areas, or so poorly by an unskilled local workforce that the results have been destructive. In 2012, recognising that skills shortages is one of the most significant issues effecting the town and its heritage, Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust developed a strategic approach to the problem by placing training and engagement at the centre of every project, and at every level from concept through to completion. A model developed where entire projects are undertaken by volunteers and trainees under the close supervision of experts. One potential risk to this approach is that our precious heritage assets become a test ground for the unskilled and untrained. However, every step in the pro- cess is painstakingly scrutinised, limitations are realised and accepted, and an extensive range of experts, professionals and craftspeople monitor, advise and mentor the work. The benefits of this model include ownership, civic pride, a highly skilled and passionate workforce, and a repaired, preserved and properly maintained town. From 2014 the strategy was widened to reflect Yarmouth’s historic associationwith trading part- ners across the globe and the town’s long history of internationalism and inward migration. Great Yarmouth’s principal historic significance, other than as an archetypical 20th-century seaside town, is its maritime heritage, and its importance as a centre for trade, especially in the medieval period and the 17th and 18th centuries. As a trading port on the edge of the east coast, the town’s rich heritage, culture and tra- ditions are firmly influenced by the continent. This has helped to shape a truly distinctive Learning building skills at a workshop in the village of Karpachevo on the Devetaki Plateau, Bulgaria

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