Nationwide Survey Reveals Strong Support for Preserving Traditional Skills in Scotland’s Heritage Sector

A recent survey of 1000 Scottish respondents highlights strong support for preserving the nation's traditional heritage skills. 83% believe skills like stonemasonry, thatching, and metalwork are essential for safeguarding historic buildings. An overwhelming 96% are interested in learning heritage-related skills themselves. The survey findings coincide with Historic Environment Scotland's 'I Make History' campaign, which spotlights careers in the heritage sector. Young people are particularly enthusiastic, expressing interest in learning traditional skills and pursuing heritage careers, according the survey.

A recent survey conducted by Censuswide sheds light on the attitudes of Scottish respondents towards the preservation of traditional skills vital for safeguarding the nation’s historic buildings and properties. The sampled group included a diverse range of stakeholders such as young people, career changers, policy makers, thought leaders, skilled workers aspiring to join the heritage sector, developers, and local authorities.

Scots value preserving traditional heritage skills: The findings underscore a significant consensus among respondents regarding the importance of maintaining traditional skills crucial for preserving Scotland’s rich heritage. A striking 83% of participants expressed the importance of upholding traditional craftsmanship like stonemasonry, thatching, and metalwork. Moreover, an overwhelming majority of 96% showed interest in acquiring skills related to the heritage sector.

The survey was timed to coincide with Historic Environment Scotland’s (HES) launch of the ‘I Make History’ campaign, coinciding with Scottish Apprenticeship Week. This campaign aims to boost both the traditional and contemporary skills essential for Scotland’s heritage sector, highlighting real employees across the organisation.

Young people care about traditional heritage skills: Notably, 83% of respondents emphasised the significance of integrating traditional skills into school curricula. Among the surveyed demographic, young individuals exhibited a notable interest in learning skills like stonemasonry, digital scanning, blacksmithing, and conservation techniques, with nearly two-thirds expressing interest in pursuing a career in the heritage sector.

Kirsty Gallagher, a modern apprentice at Stirling Castle, shared her first-hand experience, expressing immense satisfaction in contributing to Scotland’s cultural legacy. Gallagher highlighted the personal and professional growth she has experienced, endorsing modern apprenticeships as rewarding avenues for career development. Alex Paterson, CEO of HES, emphasised the broader impact of traditional skills on Scotland’s economy and sustainability objectives.

I’ve developed so much as a person whilst working in the heritage sector – strengthening skills and gaining real excitement for maintaining Scotland’s history. I used to drive past Stirling Castle all the time and now I get to work here every single day.

Kirsty Gallagher

The survey supports preserving Scotland’s historic environment: Furthermore, the survey found that 84% of respondents deem it essential to preserve Scotland’s historic environment, with a considerable proportion linking heritage preservation to the country’s cultural identity and economic vitality. Additionally, respondents recognised the tourism and economic benefits associated with restoring historic buildings.

A notable proportion of respondents identified traditional skills as environmentally friendly and sustainable, further recognising the heritage sector’s role in supporting Scotland’s net-zero targets and contributing to green recovery efforts.

Overall, the survey underscores the widespread support for preserving traditional skills and the vital role they play in safeguarding Scotland’s cultural heritage and shaping its future. These findings emphasise the need for concerted efforts to nurture and protect these invaluable skills for generations to come, but also that many people are just waiting for a good opportunity to get involved with heritage.

[Source: Censuswide Survey, Historic Environment Scotland (HES)]

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