The event allowed those involved with traditional building craft skills to share experiences and best practice, discuss current issues and undertake workshops to identify and address barriers and to improve the sustainability of traditional buildings and building methods.
Traditional buildings are categorised as those built before 1919, which make up 34% of the total building stock in Wales - the highest proportion in the UK. This includes both listed and unlisted buildings and all require traditional building craft skills for restoration and preservation.
Two Welsh Government Ministers attended the event. Deputy Minister for Skills Jeff Cuthbert opened the event with a speech about the importance of developing skills for the construction industry and how traditional skills can be combined with modern skills and technology, while Minister for Housing Regeneration and Heritage, Huw Lewis spoke about the need for traditional building craft skills in preserving the heritage of Wales.
The Minister was making the closing address in which he told delegates:
"Wales has the oldest building stock in the UK, so the built environment forms a very important part of our heritage. Our heritage is important for many reasons; it is rich and varied, it’s part of our history and our culture and it provides us with a unique identity and sense of community, as well as offering attractive and interesting places for people to live, work and play.
"With such a high proportion of traditional buildings, a sufficient supply of traditional building craft expertise is essential; without it, the future of our built heritage in Wales will not be in safe hands. Failing to deal properly with this valuable resource could have huge implications for both our heritage and our economy so traditional building craft skills has to be an important part of our shared agenda."
Cadw has participated in the development of craft skills training as a partner in the Traditional Building Skills Bursary Scheme, which over the past 5 years has trained 19 individuals in Wales. Cadw has also supported the training bursary scheme at the Towy Centre in Carmarthenshire and two trainees have been trained on Cadw sites.
Deputy Minister for Skills Jeff Cuthbert, said:
"The Welsh Government is committed to helping deliver the skilled workforce our economy needs, and we are always looking at new ways of working to respond to the specific needs of industry. Nowhere is this more significant than across the construction sector. The changing face of the industry means new building products, techniques and practices are constantly evolving. At the one end of the sector we see the cutting edge designs of new buildings. And at other, the traditional craft skills used to repair and maintain some our existing buildings and historic sites.
"With new challenges on the horizon there will continue to be the pressure for reducing barriers to training across the heritage sector and today’s summit clearly marks the start of that process."