Skills and training guidance

Skills and training guidance

This guidance is designed to help you meet our outcome: people will develop skills through your project.


Whether your project is entirely focused on training with defined outcomes for learning, or if training and skills development is one element of a wider project, this guidance sets out what you will need to consider in order to achieve this outcome. 

We want to fund high quality training that meets the strategic needs and priorities of heritage, continuing to help it into the future. In this guidance, we set out the questions you will need to think about when planning your project and we have provided specific advice on formal apprenticeships, other paid training placements and additional training opportunities for young people.

Our expectations will be proportional to the grant you are requesting. Our staff and decision makers will consider the size of your grant and organisation, and the number of outcomes you are achieving when assessing whether your skills and training activities are high quality and represent value for money.

Being ambitious

Our ambition for skills development is more than just resourcing traineeships or training courses.

We want our investment to help people develop key skills, helping heritage organisations become more resilient or enterprising, or making sure that heritage is in better condition. We want to see a wider range of people involved in heritage through the creation of more inclusive training, entry level employment and progression opportunities.

You can develop skills through structured training activity (for example, a formal apprenticeship), on-the-job or in-house training, or an external short course. As a result, staff, volunteers or young people should be able to demonstrate competence in new, specific skills, and where appropriate, will have gained an accredited qualification or will have been supported into employment in the heritage sector.

Depending on the size and scope of your project and organisation, we will expect to see your skills and training activity address an identified skills shortage - a recognised absence - in your organisation or the heritage workforce in general. If you are applying for a grant over £250k you should be able to demonstrate how your project will enhance the capacity of the heritage industry to deliver sustainable training, and how your activities will provide clear career pathways. In projects that are wholly or mainly focused on training, you will need to demonstrate a financial model for continuing the training provision beyond the lifetime of your project.

How to develop training capacity and activities in your project

By training we mean the process of learning the skills you need to do a particular job or activity. To achieve our skills outcome you will need to clearly plan and set out in your application:

  • What skills or training provision will be developed
  • Why these skills are important
  • Who will be trained in the new skills and putting them into practice
  • How you will structure and plan effective training
  • Who you will partner with to ensure the training is high quality
  • How you will measure success (for the individual, for heritage, for your organisation)

What skills or training will you develop?

When planning your heritage project, consider whether your existing staff, volunteers and trustees have the skills needed to deliver it. You may want to up-skill existing staff or volunteers or recruit new people. Either way, your project provides an opportunity to invest in your staff and volunteers’ development and ensure they are able to deliver and benefit from the grant.

For example, if you are planning an oral history project but don’t have any experience in-house, think about whether you will recruit a project officer or consultant with experience of oral history work, or you include the cost of respected oral history training courses for existing staff or volunteers. Consider which option will best help you deliver your project and best support you to embed these new skills in your organisation for the future.

You may want to share existing skills and knowledge with a wider range of people. Think about how you will share your own skills and whether you need to create new courses and resources to do this (for example, if you were carrying our wildlife surveys, you might use digital field notes, ‘how to’ guides, transept equipment) and consider how these will be maintained and shared more widely during and after your project.

You may want to create pre-employment opportunities to deliver specific heritage skills for people in your community, for example through traineeships for young people.

You may want to create formal apprenticeships to encourage new entrants to the heritage workforce and provide more job opportunities for local people. See Section 4 below.

You could link your skills work to help achieve our learning outcome too. Showcasing the heritage skills being put into practice during the delivery of your project can help the public to learn about heritage crafts and see conservation and crafts people in action.

Why these skills are important

Depending on the scale of your project, you will need to explain why these skills are important to your project, to your community or place, or to heritage more broadly. Consider whether the focus of your project is to fill a skills gap within your organisation or you wish to work more strategically to address a wider skills shortage in heritage.

Consider how the new skills your staff or volunteers will learn during your project will have a longer term impact on them as individuals and on the heritage workforce.

What evidence do you have to show that people do not have these skills and that heritage industry needs them now and in the future? Are the skills at risk - you may want to support traditional skills that are dying out as practitioners retire or are particular to your area.

Perhaps the skills you want to develop support heritage at risk? For example, they might be skills to conserve or maintain historic boats or churches, surveying skills to support our understanding of marine habitats, or new digital skills to support the care of fragile archives.

Many heritage bodies have policy documents or workforce strategies that set out priorities for skills development.

Who will be trained in the new skills?

Will you be training existing staff or volunteers or recruiting and training new staff, trainees or volunteers as part of your project? Explain why the approach you have chosen works best for your organisation and how these skills will be put into practice during the project and beyond.

Consider addressing our inclusion outcome ‘a wider range of people will be involved in heritage’ through your training activities.

When thinking about inclusive recruitment, our research tells us that successful project leads:

  • consider the geographic location of their project and use available information on the diversity background of local communities to understand potential reach
  • are realistic and set objectives that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) in light of their project’s geographic context
  • carry out a needs analysis that identifies the challenges and barriers likely to be faced by individuals or groups taking part in training, especially if they are not already well represented in the workforce
  • use local partners and networks who work on the ground to expand access to under-represented groups and
  • use marketing materials that promote widening access and consider the use of language and images to be appealing to the people you want to attract.

How will you structure and plan effective training?

Depending on the size and timescale of your project you will need to consider the best way to structure and plan effective training activity. Do not underestimate the time and resources needed to commission and contract external trainers, develop new courses with external training providers or create in-house training opportunities. It takes time to develop effective partnerships with support agencies and training providers - you may need to plan around existing timetables for schools, colleges or apprenticeship providers.

Experience has shown that projects need to build in additional time when apprentices or trainees are supporting the delivery of a project, for example, construction or conservation activity. New recruits will require time to learn the new skills before putting them into practice and will also require supervision and support from experienced members of staff.

Consider whether the time of year will have an impact on the training you are planning and how long the training should last. For example, will the training coincide with quiet or busy times for your organisation, could the weather impact on the training (for example, if you are outdoors or your site is prone to travel disruption), would a six month training placement allow a trainee to see the full range of your work (for example, if horticultural or seasonally based) or will recruitment need to fit around a college timetable?

Who will you partner?

It is important to identify training providers who can support your needs and the needs of your trainees. Providing accredited training not only provides a level of quality assurance but also supports participants develop their CVs and move into employment or continue their professional development.

You can work with a college or training provider to deliver vocational qualifications, accredited learning or apprenticeships. To develop the training capacity of your own organisation, you may also need to build in training for staff in assessment and internal verification skills.

How will you measure success?

It is important to plan evaluation from the start of your project. You need to collect baseline data on trainees - this may be about the existing skills, knowledge or confidence of participants so that you can measure the impact of your training intervention. We will ask you to collect demographic data from individuals involved in your project too.

Use tools such as self-assessment, work diaries or portfolios to monitor how the training impacts on individuals and use the completing qualifications or progression into employment to help measure success. The data you collect can be supported through case studies or films that can bring to life the impact of training on an individual and the opportunities for careers in the heritage sector.

Training interventions will also have an impact on your organisation and it is important to capture this as well. The impact could include the capacity of your organisation to deliver future training, a change in recruitment practices to support a more diverse workforce, embedding apprenticeship opportunities into staffing structures, sustainable partnerships with training providers, income generation from training delivery or supporting the resilience of heritage through supporting enterprise.


Creating apprentice roles within your project is an opportunity to provide new routes into employment in the heritage sector. Employing apprentices as part of your project can provide huge benefits to your project and organisation including:

  • bringing in new talent and a fresh perspective
  • ensuring you have the right people with the right skills to deliver your project and support your organisation’s future
  • developing your own staff’s capacity to share their skills and knowledge and support succession planning
  • accessing government funding to deliver apprenticeship training (e.g. through co-investment or using the apprenticeship levy in England).

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a job with structured, on-the-job training provided by the employer, as well as off-the-job training delivered by a training provider. The apprentice completes a qualification (the apprenticeship or a specific vocational qualification).

Before including apprentice roles in your HLF application you will need to identify which approved apprenticeship framework or standard they will be following, as recognised by the relevant national skills organisations. This will need to match the job role and skills required by your apprentice to do their work.

More about apprenticeships across the UK:

Institute for Apprenticeships (England)

Skills Development Scotland (Scotland)

Business Wales (Wales)

Skills to Success (Northern Ireland)

See section 5 for ways to build training into your project if the skills you need to train in are not covered by an apprenticeship framework or standard.

Employing apprentices

Apprenticeships can be part of a wider project or the main focus. We expect to see the following in place to ensure the apprentice opportunities we are funding are high quality:

  • a meaningful, paid role with a job description
  • training delivered to a relevant apprenticeship standard at an appropriate level, which might be Level 2, Level 3 or higher
  • a suitable training provider and (in England only) an end point assessor, identified and on board
  • a clear training structure, working alongside skilled people
  • consideration of the opportunity to diversify the workforce using different recruitment methods and partners
  • support mechanisms in place, e.g. pastoral care for young people in their first role
  • a clear career pathway considered and support provided to ensure progression into employment or further training.

If you are applying for a grant of more than £250,000, the detail and job descriptions can be worked up in your development phase and included in your second-round application.

Specialist heritage placements and shared apprenticeships

If your project is unable to support the completion of a full apprenticeship (for example if your project does not cover the full range of skills required or it does not last the duration of an apprenticeship) you could work with a local training organisation to provide specialist heritage placements for apprentices based with other organisations. You would need to be clear in your application how many opportunities you plan to deliver and which partners you will work with.

The Shared Apprenticeship Scheme within construction allows apprentices to complete a full apprenticeship programme by working with a number of different employers, to gain the skills they require to become qualified.

Working with your construction contractors

Involving construction partners in your training plans can support the sharing of heritage construction skills with new and established professionals. The Shrewsbury Flax Mill Maltings project is developing model clauses that will support capital projects of all sizes work with their construction contractors to support wider training opportunities. As a large scale project they have created training opportunities with a range of partners at a variety of levels that could be adapted for smaller projects.

Structured training placements

Not every job role in heritage is matched with an apprenticeship route because the numbers of skilled people required by the economy is too small. Where an apprenticeship standard or framework is not available for a specific role, the creation of a paid structured training placement can support the transfer of specific heritage skills from an experienced practitioner to a new member of staff.

In line with the quality requirements for an apprentice, we would want to see the following in place to ensure meaningful and quality structured training opportunities:

  • a clearly identified role with a role description
  • a bursary or salary in line with the national minimum wage for their age
  • a personalised training plan that enables the trainee to work alongside one or more experienced heritage professionals in the workplace
  • the opportunity to complete accredited or professional qualifications where they are available or a portfolio of work, if not, to create a realistic opportunity for progression and employment.

The Blyth’s Ship Building Heritage project, delivered by Blyth Tall Ship, filled a gap in the progression route for people interested in traditional boatbuilding, through developing a bespoke Level 1 vocational qualification in Engineering Operations. This was delivered by an 8-week (two days a week) course which is now offered to all their trainees and less experienced engineering volunteers. Of the original trainees, 40% have gone on to take further education courses, and 30% to find work. The impact is described in their video.

Structured training positions can have a positive impact on the individual concerned and on the organisation that hosts and supports the trainee. You will need to consider the additional support that a new trainee will require from staff within your organisation, the training your staff may need and any associated costs needed to deliver a successful opportunity.

Skills development for young people over 14

Research has shown that there is still work to be done in promoting heritage careers to young people. You may already be engaging with young people through learning activities, providing work experience or volunteering opportunities in partnership with local schools or through schemes such as the Duke of Edinburgh Awards. Building in opportunities to develop employability skills and signposting career opportunities within the heritage sector can add value to your project and support local young people to engage with heritage in a different way.

As part of the Kew Gardens Temperate House Project, a Youth Explainers programme was set up to provide disadvantaged young people with the skills, confidence and qualifications to engage with Kew visitors. The young people were supported to move into further training and education in plant-science and horticulture.

There are also a number of formal routes for employers wishing to provide training or work experience for young people including:

  • Foundation Apprenticeships (Scotland) are designed to help school children in years S5 and S6 (aged 16-18) gain valuable, real-work experience and access work-based learning as part of their seniors’ experience, alongside Highers or Nationals. There are 12 Frameworks available including Creative and Digital Media, Engineering and Business Skills, all relevant to the heritage sector. Foundation Apprenticeships can provide young people with a head start on a career by providing industry-recognised qualifications and the experience employers are looking for.
  • A traineeship (England) is an education and training programme with work experience which is designed to help young people aged 16 to 24 become ‘work ready’. Traineeships provide the essential work preparation training, English, maths and work experience needed to secure an apprenticeship or employment for young people who don’t yet have the appropriate skills or experience.
  • The Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate (Wales) includes a Community Challenge which requires students to conduct an individual skills audit and plan a community activity which involves a minimum of 30 hours’ volunteering. Approved community challenges include examples from CADW, National Resources Wales, National Museum Wales, National Library of Wales and the Powys War Memorial Project.
  • T Levels (England) are emerging 2-year, technical programmes designed with employers to give young people the skills that industry needs including digital, construction, engineering, environment and creative routes. From 2020, they will give students aged 16 to 18 a technical alternative to A levels and will help them to get a skilled job. T Levels include an industry placement of at least 45 days and there will be opportunities for heritage employers to get involved.

The Upper Nidderdale Landscape Partnership project included a foundation programme for heritage skills, providing vocational training in traditional skills for young people in Nidderdale. A full-time study programme, it provided high quality training and specialist work placements, helping students to make a positive transition between school and employment or further education.

Budgeting for training

Training, even if delivered in house, needs to be costed appropriately. Example costs include:

  • Cost of trainers and training courses
  • Registration and assessment costs for accredited learning
  • ‘Co-investment’ costs of apprentice training and assessment costs where applicable (England only)
  • Train the Trainer training or assessor or internal verifier training for staff
  • Recruitment costs e.g. taster days for potential new recruits, travel expenses for attending interviews, new recruitment methods to appeal to a wider range of people
  • Salaries for apprentices or bursaries to support paid training placements where apprenticeship standards aren’t available
  • Additional financial support to overcome barriers to joining the heritage workforce (e.g. membership of professional bodies, training and travel budget for trainees, hardship fund, railcard or annual bus pass costs, completion bonus)
  • Equipment to support on-the-job training (e.g. tools of the trade, protective equipment, IT equipment to support learning).

If you are an apprenticeship levy-paying organisation in England you cannot claim your levy contribution as part of your project. If you are employing apprentices as part of your project, however, the apprenticeship training and assessment costs your organisation will pay via the digital apprenticeship service can be used as match-funding.

More information and resources

Case studies

The Canal and River Trust Waterway Heritage Skills project created a pipeline of candidates for future apprenticeships across the Trust. The 12 month traineeships created taster opportunities for young people in the West Midlands, let them discover if a heritage construction career would suit them, and allowed the Trust to assess the young people’s suitability for the advanced apprenticeship. Of 45 trainees, 23 are still with the Trust, three in other heritage jobs and three are studying for degrees.

For example, building in an apprenticeship role within the staffing structure for your project to support community engagement or learning activities. Consider, too, what skills your existing staff will need to effectively support an apprentice e.g. you could include costs for a ‘Train the Trainer’ course or they could shadow colleagues in other organisations more experienced in recruiting and working with apprentices and training providers.

For example, providing hard hat tours and skills demonstrations to promote specialist heritage constructions skills to the wider construction industry or local colleges, or providing access for the public to ‘conservation in action’ as demonstrated at the Painted Hall.

The CALANAS Transforming Textile Traditions project returned the historic carding and spinning machinery at the new mill at Uist to productive use and reconnected the local community with the heritage of Hebridean wool-work. Supported by specialist tutors, seven local people undertook paid training placements in Mill Engineering Craft to bring the mill back into use. Five are now employed in the Mill in various paid roles.

The Angelou Centre’s BAM! Sistahood! project saw high demand for training from black and minority ethnic women who wanted heritage training and needed support to participate. This was achieved through the provision of childcare and well-considered trips and activities. The recruitment of community volunteers and facilitators created positive role models and helped support the women to develop digital skills in partnership with Gateshead and Northumberland College and oral history skills with Tyne and Wear Archives & Museums.

The ‘MADHOUSE, My House?’ project delivered by Access All Areas provided training in research, oral history and workshop facilitation skills for eight people with learning disabilities. A partnership with the Social History of Learning Disability research group ensured that the training was delivered in an accessible way for participants. Through the project, Access All Areas make a shift in the way that they work - they now use paid learning disabled trainers and co-facilitators across all their provision.

The Cairngorms Mountain Heritage Project, led by the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland, offered a structured programme of training on path construction skills. The eight-month intensive course was designed to meet the requirements of the SVQ Level 2 qualification in Environmental Conservation. On completion of the training, three trainees set up a new company which was then able to bid for local contracts. The company remains in business, has expanded to provide employment for six people and continues to support the delivery of heritage activity. Support from HLF also allowed the Trust to establish itself as an SVQ approved centre and it continues to deliver work based training.

The Auckland Project and Bishop Auckland College have joined forces to create the Auckland Academy, a partnership which offers a range of high-quality apprenticeship opportunities to the local community. The castle will seek to fill over 100 new full and part-time posts when it re-opens to the public, and to achieve this, they needed to start training early. HLF supported 34 apprentices across many areas of the business including catering, horticulture, tourism and community engagement. The Trust is proud of the positive impact achieved through its apprenticeship programme which is having a lasting legacy on its workforce