Learn a building conservation skill

This is an important, challenging and rewarding time to train in building conservation skills.

1 Why learn a building conservation skill?

Nearly one in five of Scotland’s buildings is traditionally constructed, but more than half of these buildings need urgent repair.

The impacts of climate change, on top of their age, means that many traditional buildings which have not been well or appropriately maintained are at risk, now more than ever. As a result, the demand for skills to maintain and upgrade these buildings is growing. 

By training in building conservation skills, also known as traditional building skills, you’ll be helping to meet a skills shortage and have the chance to use your skills to help repair and maintain traditional buildings across Scotland.

Learn with us

We have a range of opportunities to learn about building conservation. You can learn on-the-job while earning a wage through our Apprenticeships, Traineeships or Craft Fellowships.

Get more help and support

There are many other ways to kick-off a career in building conservation.

Find out other ways to get started from our building conservation centre, the Engine Shed.

2 Become an apprentice

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We take on apprentice:

  • stonemasons
  • joiners
  • electricians
  • painters
  • gardeners

Find vacancies

We advertise all vacancies as they arise, including apprenticeships.

Search vacancies

3 Become a trainee

Whether your career’s just beginning or you’re seeking a change, join us as a trainee to learn about specific fields in building conservation with top experts.

Work on cutting-edge projects leading the way in building conservation. Learn on the job and take part in training and professional development opportunities. Develop and grow your professional network.

After completing our 12-month traineeship programme, you’ll have the skills and knowledge to protect and understand Scotland’s historic environment with a valuable experience that will make your CV stand out to employers.

Our traineeships change every year, but in the past trainees have explored:

  • climate change impacts and adaptation
  • technical conservation research
  • building materials
  • conservation science
  • digital documentation

You don’t need any qualifications. For most of our traineeships, we look for people who:

  • have a strong interest in heritage conservation
  • are keen to learn about the topic of the specific traineeship
  • have some basic skills related to the traineeship (like basic IT skills, experience of keeping work records, etc)

We advertise all traineeships as they arise.

Be the first to know when we're recruiting for trainees by signing up to recruitment email alerts.

Search vacancies

4 Become a craft fellow

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From traditional joinery and stone carving, to milling and blacksmithing, our Craft Fellowship programme has been teaching people in-demand heritage craft skills since 1986.

For 12-18 months, our Craft Fellows are hosted and trained by master craftspeople throughout Scotland. They work on some of the country's most exciting heritage projects.

As a Craft Fellow, you'll learn hands-on skills while on the job. Our previous Craft Fellows have built a Creel House in Glencoe, built a turf hut in Comrie, worked on a capitol for the Four Courts Building in Dublin, and were shortlisted for national awards.

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Become a craft fellow

Usually, you won't need any experience in traditional skills.

We look for people who:

  • have a strong interest in heritage conservation
  • are keen to learn a new craft
  • have some basic skills related to that craft (for example, can use hand tools)

You'll be part of our network of Craft Fellows and Trainees, where you’ll share your skills and develop your professional network.

We recruit Craft Fellows throughout the year. Be the first to know when we're recruiting for Craft Fellows by signing up to recruitment email alerts.

5 Collaborate with us

Historic buildings and structures are under threat from climate change, a lack of maintenance, poorly carried out historic repairs and traditional building conservation skills shortages. We need a skilled workforce so Scotland's built heritage can be protected for the future, using the skills and materials that are right for the job.

Provide building conservation training

Are you an employer looking to upskill your workforce and strengthen your business?

Explore how to keep your current and future workforce skilled and knowledgeable with advice from our building conservation centre, the Engine Shed.

Keep up-to-date with the latest research

Our experts publish the latest research on technical building conservation.

Explore our publications

Host a Craft Fellow

Host a Craft Fellow to keep specialised building conservation skills alive and encourage talented people to work and support traditional buildings in Scotland.

What is a Craft Fellow?

Craft fellows learn hands-on skills while on the job, from traditional joinery and stone carving, to milling and blacksmithing.

We employ Craft Fellows for 12-18 months. They are hosted and trained by partner organisations and master craftspeople throughout Scotland.

We place Craft Fellows with partners of all sizes, from national heritage organisations to individual craftspeople.

Most of the time, our partners take on one Craft Fellow at a time.

Become a partner

We’re looking for partners who are passionate about building conservation. To host a craft fellow for 12 – 18 months, you need to be working:

  • with traditional building trades or crafts
  • with traditional skills or materials

You don’t need any experience in training a craftsperson, but enthusiasm to pass on your skills is a must.

You’ll also need:

  • employers' liability insurance
  • up-to-date risk assessments
  • evidence there is enough work to provide high-quality training for a Craft Fellow
  • time to support and train a Craft Fellow

Whether you have a large, dedicated project for a Craft Fellow to work on, or a wide range of different projects, you’ll be dedicated to giving them the best learning experience.

Our team will be there to guide you as a Craft Fellow host, giving advice and support on everything from risk assessments to training, if you need it.

Why host a Craft Fellow?

Hosting a craft fellow has many benefits including:

  • introducing fresh, creative talent to your trade
  • sharing skills and developing a legacy for your craft
  • innovation; Craft Fellows bring new ideas and ways of thinking to your workplace
  • creating new capacity within your business area

We recruit Craft Fellows who have basic skills related to a craft (for example, can use hand tools), with a strong interest in heritage conservation.

Find out more

To learn more about hosting a Craft Fellow, please contact us at technicaleducation@hes.scot. We’re always open to new ideas for craft fellowships.