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Skills Investment Plan for the Historic Environment

The Skills Investment Plan recognises the need to support our workforce and to nurture their skills, knowledge, expertise, and personal qualities.

A woman sitting at a desk applying gold leaf to the Lion Rampant Roundels

1 Overview

What is the Skills Investment Plan?

The Skills Investment Plan for the Historic Environment is a sector-wide skills strategy that aims to ensure that Scotland has the skills it needs to promote, manage and protect our historic environment.

Read the Skills Investment Plan

The first Skills Investment Plan was published in 2019 to support Our Place in Time (OPiT), Scotland’s first historic environment strategy. In recognition of the changes in sector skills needs and to organisations’ ability to access skills, the Skills Investment Plan has been reviewed and refreshed through an independent review process and extensive consultation. The consultation identified eleven areas of focus needed to develop to support a sustainable skills system:

  • Securing sustainable resources
  • Strong sector leadership
  • Collaboration and alignment
  • Data informed decision making and reporting
  • Growing ‘brand heritage’
  • Stabilising, maintaining and growing specialist technical skills
  • Accreditation and standards
  • Attracting future talent and developing inclusive progressive pathways
  • Accessibility of CPD
  • Improving digital literacy, application and solutions
  • Skills to address the climate crisis

What are the Skills Investment Plan’s priorities?

The refreshed plan has three priorities which the plan will work to deliver over the next 4 years:

Priority 1: Growing Provision and Building Capacity

Priority 2: Attracting Future Talent and Improving Access

Priority 3: Fostering Innovation

What is the Skills Investment Plan’s work areas?

  • Archaeology
  • Architecture, engineering, planning, surveying in a heritage context and with a conservation approach
  • Archives and libraries
  • Conservation art and artefacts
  • Heritage science
  • Heritage tourism
  • Historic landscapes and gardens
  • Industrial heritage
  • Museums and galleries
  • Traditional building skills and materials

2 Growing provision and building capacity

There is a clear need for specialist skills across the historic environment sector to grow the supply of skilled contractors and craftspeople. To meet the needs of the sector and support its growth, the delivery of education, skills and training needs to be flexible, multi-faceted, and focus on skills and knowledge sharing across the workforce, including volunteers.

How will we achieve this priority?

  • Action 1: Develop a framework for succession planning and knowledge sharing
  • Action 2: Align, develop, and accredit progressive CPD provision considering regional accessibility
  • Action 3: Build conservation awareness in key stakeholders
  • Action 4: Build capacity in the sector to deliver training
  • Action 5: Support sustainable organisations

3 Attracting future talent and improving access

Developing a strong pipeline of talent and ensuring that the future workforce has the right knowledge and skills for working in the historic environment sector is vital.

Working with Developing the Young Workforce, Skills Development Scotland, and other influencing organisations will increase awareness of career opportunities in the sector enable more people to consider a career in the historic environment sector and gain valuable work and employability skills. The development of employability opportunities supports the gaining of skills that could be the start of a fulfilling career or business, while caring for Scotland’s heritage and addressing important challenges in our communities.

How will we achieve this priority?

  • Action 1: Promote the sector as an attractive place to work
  • Action 2: Create recognised pathways into and across the sector for all
  • Action 3: Create employability opportunities to support those furthest from the workforce

Spotlight: Attracting Future Talent Careers Work

During the period of delivery of the first plan, multiple resources and programmes were developed to inspire young people to choose a career in the historic environment sector and tackle misconceptions about working in the sector. Two of these projects are Creative Careers Week and Careers Unpacked.

Creative Careers Week

This is a national campaign aimed at inspiring young people to consider careers in the creative and cultural industries. This campaign was first established in 2021 through the partnership of Developing the Young Workforce, Historic Environment Scotland, and Creative and Cultural Skills. Creative Careers Week has taken place in the autumns of 2021, 2022, and 2023 and combined in person activities with an online presence and virtual live lessons. To date, the social media campaign has reached 2 million, 1, 602 young people have attended in person events and 1,750 young people have attended live lessons.

Careers Unpacked

A career’s section on the Historic Environment Scotland website Careers Unpacked aims to equip people with the tools needed to explore a career in the sector, make informed and realistic career choices, and discover the different career pathways in the sector. Content was developed by a panel of young people in collaboration with Historic Environment Scotland. The panel was formed by members of the HistoricScot Youth Forum and sessions were facilitated by Young Scot.

Careers Unpacked

4 Fostering innovation

The consultation for the SIP highlighted the need for innovation to support net zero mitigation and adaptation, nurturing digital literacy and innovation and ensuring that the latest research and best practice can be used to benefit the sector through skills outputs.

There currently is a divide between the level of knowledge, understanding and skills application within net zero and digital skills organisations have. This divide will become increasingly apparent as technology continues to become even more prevalent and sophisticated we approach Scotland’s target date for net zero emissions in 2045 .

How will we achieve this priority?

  • Action 1: Building skills to support net-zero mitigation, adaption, and sustainability
  • Action 2: Fostering digital literacy and digital innovation
  • Action 3: Creating skills outputs from research outcomes

Spotlight: Energy Efficiency Measures for Older and Traditional Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland developed resources to deliver the course, Level 3 Award in Energy Efficiency Measures for Older and Traditional Buildings. Approved by the National Open College Network and delivered by the Engine Shed team, the course provided learners with the knowledge and skills to assess, design and implement energy-efficient solutions for older and traditional buildings. Funding from Scottish Government’s National Training Transition Fund in 2022 supported delivery and allowed the Engine Shed to offer 20 funded spaces for learners to access the course for free.

To date 59 professionals working in architecture, conservation, construction, energy and environment have been upskilled. The course taught these professionals the skills to assess traditional buildings, identify areas of improvement and recommend appropriate energy-efficient solutions depending on a building's age and construction. Further education professionals have also completed the programme to support their upskilling and to build the capacity of other providers for delivery. Currently, the course resources are being refreshed with the aim to deliver it wider to more learners and upskill more training centres across Scotland.

The Engine Shed offers a variety of training and advice around energy efficiency and building conservation. Visit the Engine Shed website for more information on their events and learning opportunities.

5 Governance and delivery

Skills and Expertise Group

The Skills and Expertise Group is an industry led group which oversees the delivery of the SIP. The group provides advice, support, monitoring and advocacy to enable the delivery of the Skills Investment Plan and report to the Our Past Our Future Steering Group.

Delivery Groups

Delivery groups were created to support the delivery of outcomes for the 2019 Skills Investment Plan. The existing delivery groups will be reviewed and refocused to support the refreshed plan outcomes. New delivery groups will be created to deliver specific priorities and objectives where necessary. All groups will have terms of reference and will consider how they can be as inclusive as possible. Membership will be considered to ensure it is representative of all the pillars, geographic spread, and diverse representation. They will report to the Skills and Expertise Group and connect to wider Our Past, Our Future delivery.

Monitoring and Implementing the Action Plan

The Action Plan will be delivered collaboratively with partners and key organisations. Working together we will identify steps for each of the activities in the action plans. To support delivery, ten skills profiles have been developed in consultation with stakeholders.

We will create a dashboard to monitor activity and the health of skills and provision in the sector. We will provide progress updates every six months to the Skills and Expertise Group for review and advise on any areas of concern or need for a change of focus.

Skills Plans and the Skills Investment Plan

For more information on the delivery groups or the Skills Investment Plan, contact the Skills Team at skills@hes.scot.