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November 17, 2023

Bridging the Gap: Historic England's Call for Skills Surge in Building Trades

Bridging the Gap: Historic England's Call for Skills Surge in Building Trades


A pressing challenge looms over England's construction landscape, as Historic England's analysis reveals a staggering 50% shortfall in the pool of skilled workers essential for retrofitting the country's historic buildings. The urgent need for trades such as plumbing, electrical work, and plastering is underscored by the imperative to support carbon reduction initiatives. In this article, we'll delve into Historic England's call for action, exploring the profound implications of the skills deficit and the ambitious targets set to retrofit traditionally constructed buildings in alignment with Net Zero goals.

The Skills Shortfall

Historic England's analysis points to a critical shortage of skilled workers, with only half the required workforce available for retrofitting historic buildings. This shortage spans vital trades including plumbing, electrical work, and plastering, posing a significant obstacle to achieving necessary carbon reduction works.

Government Targets and Workforce Requirements

To meet Net Zero targets by 2050, Historic England emphasises the need for an average of 86,500 new workers annually. This ambitious target reflects the magnitude of the challenge in retrofitting traditionally constructed buildings. The government agency's proactive call for action underscores the urgency in mobilising a skilled workforce to address both historical preservation and the pressing demand for sustainable construction practices.

Historic England's Online Tool

In response to the skills shortages, Historic England has developed an online tool that provides a detailed overview of the specific trades required in different regions. This tool serves as a valuable resource for understanding the geographical nuances of the skills deficit, enabling targeted efforts to bridge the gap in areas where the need is most acute.

Actionable Solutions

  1. Educational Initiatives: Collaborative efforts between educational institutions and industry stakeholders are crucial to attract and train new talent. Programs focusing on traditional building trades can provide a pipeline of skilled workers to meet the growing demand.
  2. Government Support: Comprehensive government support, including financial incentives and policy frameworks, is essential to encourage individuals to pursue careers in essential trades. This can contribute to the growth of a skilled workforce capable of meeting the demands of retrofitting historic buildings.
  3. Industry Collaboration: Stakeholders across the construction industry must collaborate to identify and address the specific needs of different regions. Sharing best practices and fostering a culture of continuous learning can enhance the overall skill set of the workforce.


Historic England's revelation of a 50% shortfall in the skills pool for retrofitting historic buildings is a call to action for the construction industry, educational institutions, and government bodies alike. By collectively addressing the skills deficit through targeted initiatives, the industry can not only meet current challenges but also pave the way for sustainable and skillful construction practices in the future.

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