IHBC Yearbook 2011

r e v i e w 29 Integrating Training and Skills Development across Professions Ingval Maxwell The Conservation, Repair and Maintenance (CRM) challenge Over the past decade a significant lacuna has become apparent in the UK construction industry, which operates in two significant sectors: new-build and repair and maintenance, yet predominantly trains for one: newbuild. As a result, training and skills development in the CRM sector has been inadequate, resulting in some unfortunate consequences in dealing with our built heritage. Endorsing these concerns, a series of recently published reports, some from the National Heritage Training Group (NHTG), have identified that CRM work has an overall UK value estimated at £5 billion per annum. The underlying message of these reports, however, is that the quality, value and needs of pre1919 built heritage have not been adequately recognised by the relevant education and training providers, the industry, or the professional bodies. Furthermore, there is a general lack of understanding of the value of our built heritage at all levels of society, despite what is being spent on its upkeep. Accreditation in building conservation Fortunately, the construction industry and professional bodies have recently begun to recognise that education and training in the conservation, repair and maintenance of the existing building stock have not been receiving the attention they deserve, and that significant steps will be necessary to redress the imbalance. The formal accreditation of building professionals to work in building conservation was identified as one such initiative required to drive up quality and standards in the sector. In aiming to give appropriate recognition to individuals that a recognised standard has been met, a number of basic challenges were identified in setting up the various professional body accreditation schemes. The fundamental objective of improving competencies involved devising an agreed structure and guidelines that accreditation schemes should follow. A peer-review assessment process was thought to be the best way forward, requiring the formal submission of relevant evidence compiled by the individual and forwarded, with a fee, to their professional body for consideration. The Edinburgh Group and www.understandingconservation.org To pursue these objectives and to enable a dialogue across the disciplines, a UK-wide panprofessional body emerged in 1999 which became known as the Edinburgh Group (until 2008 it primarily met in Edinburgh). Considering the issues involved from the client’s perspective, the initial work of the group looked at the three building profession accreditation schemes which then existed (together with the 1998 Professional Accreditation of ConservatorRestorers (PACR) scheme run by UKIC, subsequently Icon) with a view to determining and endorsing any commonality that existed between them. As a result, it was able to assist in the preparation of generic guidance for applicants and accreditation assessors that all the participating professional bodies in the group could sign up to. In support of the various accreditation initiatives that had emerged or were emerging, another significant output from the Edinburgh Group was the development of the accreditation support website www. understandingconservation.org. The juxtaposition of old buildings and new in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh is a reminder of the wide range of conservation, repair and maintenance challenges which the future holds. (All photos: Ingval Maxwell)