Something new for something old from Carmarthenshire Construction Training Association Limited

With around a third of the buildings in Wales built before 1919, there’s strong demand inside the industry for qualified heritage specialists –but a lack of training courses available. 

Knowledge of traditional buildings, and an awareness of the skills and materials needed to work on them, is increasingly in demand in Wales, where there is a rich and varied architectural heritage. 

But there are very few opportunities to gain formal qualifications in how to maintain, conserve and repair these buildings appropriately.

To remedy this skills shortage, Carmarthenshire Construction Training Association Limited (CCTAL) teamed up with Cadw, the national historic environment service, Cyfle Building Skills and the Tywi Centre, which specialises in heritage restoration, to develop a pilot apprenticeship course specifically aimed at individuals working on traditional buildings.

To do it, they needed CITB funding.

The importance of funding

It fell to Lynette Daniels, Training Officer for CCTAL, to make the application.

“The process was quite involving, daunting even – but I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. Without the funding we wouldn’t have had the resources to put the course on,” she says.

“We had good communication with CITB so we knew exactly what the deadlines and timings were. The payment was prompt and we didn’t have to wait.”

With the benefit of CITB funding of more than £13,000, they were able to run a new course, the Level 3 Award in Repair and Maintenance of Traditional (pre-1919) Buildings at the Tywi Centre.

png image showing traditional skills training

Snapshot

Company:  Carmarthenshire Construction Training Association Limited (CCTAL)
Sector:  Training association supporting and promoting the construction industry in Carmarthenshire
Challenge:  Addressing a skills shortage for construction work in old buildings
Fund type: CITB’s flexible fund
Amount awarded:  £13,012 
Impact:  The development of a new Level 3 qualification for apprentices looking for careers in the heritage sector.

It was taken up by 29 Level 2 and 3 apprentices who were already studying plastering, carpentry, painting and decorating, bricklaying and electrical courses, but who wanted to expand their knowledge for use in traditional buildings.

New courses for old techniques

The training covered both theory and practical learning, with workshops on traditional techniques, such as using lime mortar, conservation legislation, visits to exemplar buildings, and discussions about career opportunities in the heritage construction sector.

“Without the funding we wouldn’t have had the resources to put the
course on.”

Lynette Daniels, CCTAL Training Officer

Feedback from the course was very positive with all apprentices agreeing they had a better understanding of how to work with older buildings, and 13 achieving the Level 3 Award. 

“The course was challenging for some of the apprentices but everyone took something useful away,” Lynne comments.

“They said how interesting and beneficial it was and found it a valuable addition to their traditional qualification.” 

“All the employers we spoke to said that apprentices who knew about old buildings would be an asset to them.”

While the Level 3 Award is now a fixture at the Tywi Centre, the course developers recognise there is still a need for other lower-level practical courses with heritage training embedded at each level of NVQ apprenticeship programmes. 

Lynne remarks, “None of this could have been done without the help of CITB funding.”