(Above) Heritage Blacksmith Bursaries will train 16 people to conserve and restore historic ironwork with a £350,000 Lottery grant. Image: Kippa Matthews/HLF
Skills for the Future, the Heritage Lottery Fund project sponsoring hundreds of traineeships in a backlash against the recession, will invest £17 million in more than 800 placements in an unprecedented expansion of the scheme across the UK.
A total of 54 programmes will provide apprenticeships and training across the sector, from 18-month contracts for curatorial prodigies at the British Museum to teenage hedgelayers in Sheffield and blacksmith bursaries courtesy of the National Heritage Ironwork Group.
The HLF had promised a £5 million speculation on the plan when it was announced in December 2009, but a strong response from leading bodies and potential students has convinced organisers to almost quadruple their outlay.
"When the recession kicked in last year we thought very hard about how we could make a difference to people's lives at a time of real need," reflected HLF Chair Dame Jenny Abramsky.
Training the Curator will teach 15 trainees how to handle and display objects and communicate with the public during 18-month stints at The British Museum
"The answer was an innovative and ambitious programme focusing on equipping people with practical skills to help them secure future employment.
"We have been astounded by the response, which clearly shows a great hunger for skills training within our sector, and we know that the range of placements on offer will attract people who might not previously have considered working in heritage."
Key winners include the National Trust, which has been awarded more than £500,000 to run training sessions targeting young people from minority groups in a set of 30 one-year placements. Centred on horticulture and the countryside, the roles come with a £12,000 annual salary.
"It gives us an opportunity to share our properties and knowledge with a new group of people," said Trust Director-General Dame Fiona Reynolds.
"It will crucially increase the skills base and diversity of the heritage workforce."
Developing Green Talent, run by the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust, will include chainsaw training
Training the Curator, at the British Museum, will teach 15 pupils to handle and display objects with a £510,000 grant, and the Tate will show 20 learners how to conserve modern collections in the £689,000 The Museum and its Future programme. The Whitechapel Gallery and Tyne and Wear Museums and Archives are also among the venues fostering young talent.
The Natural Communities Programmes – a joint project in Scotland and Northern Ireland – will teach 24 trainees to help communities conserve natural heritage in a £521,000 scheme, and National Museums Liverpool will lead the North West Fed museums in a £350,000 investment encompassing Manchester Museum, Salford Museum and Art Gallery and Towneley Hall in Burnley.
"This award enables us to expand our work while helping existing staff build on their skills," said Alyson Young, the training and development officer for National Museums Liverpool.
"It helps us reach every section of the community."
Trainees will work with Heritage Boatyard Supervisor Dave Linney as part of Keeping History Afloat: Traditional Boat Building at The Waterways Trust in Ellesmere Port
The National Heritage Ironwork Group will be responsible for 16 apprentices working in "hot forge" work, a heritage area which was identified as suffering from a "real shortage".
The Waterways Trust will also use a £110,000 grant to equip three trainees with the skills to conserve 1,000 ships on the National Register of Historic Vessels.
"Making sure we have a skilled workforce for the future will help to protect the very best heritage from our past, and I'm pleased this scheme will benefit projects in all corners of the UK," said John Penrose, the Minister for Tourism and Heritage.
"This investment is a great way of giving people access to practical on-the-job training at a time when we need to do all we can to give people a helping hand to follow their careers."
Watch the video of Dame Jenny Abramsky and experts across the sector discussing Skills for the Future.