A heritage body is urging people to consider a career in the heritage sector to help boost the current and future workforce needed to protect Scotland’s historic environment.

Heritage sector careers bring forward traditional skills used centuries ago and combine them with cutting-edge technology and modern ways of working to conserve  structures and produce 3D models and immersive site maps.

Stonemasons, blacksmiths and digital innovators are among the "crucial" roles  Historic Environment Scotland (HES) say will play a part in ensuring Scotland's heritage continues to be enjoyed for generations to come.

HES is encouraging more people to take up a career in protecting and maintaining Scotland’s historic environment as part of a new ‘I Make History’ campaign, which it has launched to raise awareness about the opportunities to develop traditional and new skills within the heritage sector.

It comes after a survey commissioned by HES to coincide with the campaign found significant support for traditional and heritage-related skills, with 83% of respondents stating it’s important for young people to be taught traditional skills in school. 

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Two-thirds of respondents said they are interested in a career in the heritage sector, with existing skilled workers most likely to be interested.

As a demographic, young people surveyed are most interested in learning stonemasonry (35%), closely followed by digital scanning and blacksmith skills (31%), conservation techniques (30%) and thatching (30%), with 18-24 year olds in particular thinking it’s important to preserve traditional skills with almost 65 per cent (64.75%) interested in a career in the heritage sector. 

Alex Paterson, chief executive at HES said: "It’s vital we train and retain traditional and emerging skills for the heritage sector and the benefit of Scotland’s past, present, and future.

"We need more young people to think about coming into the sector from school, college, or university. And we need more skilled workers and those seeking a career change to consider switching sectors.

"The heritage sector provides rewarding career opportunities, and it makes a real difference to Scotland’s rich historic environment. Traditional skills are essential to Scotland's retrofitting efforts, with approximately one in five homes in Scotland being built pre-1919, these skills will play a pivotal role in our journey to achieving net zero targets. By further integrating green practices and innovative technologies, the historic environment contributes to a greener, more sustainable future while delivering economic benefits through jobs, tourism and local business opportunities."

Luke Maher, a HES stonemason, uses traditional ways of working to conserve historic properties for our future. He was part of the team responsible for transporting the Stone of Destiny for King Charles’ coronation, and he’s worked on the Antonine Wall, which sits at the site of what was once the most northerly frontier of the Roman Empire nearly 2,000 years ago.

Mr Maher said: “I get to work at some of Scotland’s most beautiful properties and take care of our history on a daily basis. It’s been life-changing - it’s given me a career and a trade that I can take all over the world.”

Sophia Mirashrafi, a Senior Digital Innovation Officer at HES, is responsible for digitally mapping ancient sites and artefacts to create 3D representations and prints, enhancing the ways we interact with historic assets. 

Drawing inspiration from gaming and photography industries, she uses her skills in digital mapping and photogrammetry and applies them across the heritage sector, creating a blend of old and new in traditional trades such as stonemasonry.

Ms Mirashrafi said: “I get to crawl around in really cool places across Scotland, such as Maeshowe, which is a chambered tomb in Orkney, and Skara Brae, a 5,000 year old village on the same island. While at these world heritage sites, I’m down on my hands and knees crawling along corridors to access all the nooks and crannies for digital mapping. Some of the walls are even covered in Viking graffiti.”