For Ian Fisher, 57, a bricklayer by trade for many years, it was a case of “never too late to learn” after he recently completed a traditional building skills course in flint walling, part funded by City & Country’s Traditional Skills Bursary Scheme. Provided by Essex County Council, the courses teach builders and homeowners how to restore historic and listed properties.
“I’ve worked as a bricklayer for years and recently moved into more heritage based work and I wanted to upskill. I never thought I would get back into training, but I strongly believe that you’re never too old to learn new skills and these types of courses are invaluable.” Ian said.
Specialist courses available include timber framing, flint walling, thatching and wrought ironwork. As an Essex based business, City & Country has supported the County Council-run programme since 2008. With skills and knowledge gaps affecting the heritage sector the company continues to provide the Bursary to assist with training so that some of these essential specialist skills are not forgotten. By doing so, City & Country hopes to prepare a new generation of tradespeople for a career in heritage construction.
Ian’s course took place over three days with work focused on the restoration of a flint church. He explained: “The location was fantastic and the church we got to work on was very interesting. A lot of these courses can become very expensive once you factor in the cost of the course plus travel and accommodation. I’m based in the Midlands and when I mentioned that I’d been to Essex for the course a number of my associates were aware of the programme, so it clearly has a great reputation.”
Helen Moore, Managing Director of City & Country, added: “The growing shortage of skilled construction workers has been highlighted in recent years, but this is especially true of the heritage sector where some specific areas of work can require years of training. As a business that is passionate about the restoration and regeneration of some of Britain’s finest historic buildings, we believe it is essential to encourage and support those with an interest in the sector. We are delighted to continue our longstanding relationship with Essex County Council and would urge those interested in one of their Traditional Building Skills Courses to contact them.”