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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 June, 2005, 11:14 GMT 12:14 UK
Skills threat to historic sites
A shortage of skilled craftspeople could be putting the region's historic buildings at risk, a specialist training organisation has claimed.

The National Heritage Training Group, says 2,300 people are working to preserve more than 500,000 properties.

But the group, which includes employers and heritage organisations, says 500 more people are needed in the South West in the next year to meet demand.

It also fears skills such as drystone walling and thatching could die out.

The group, funded by English Heritage and national construction training group CITB Construction Skills, said almost a quarter of contractors working on pre-1919 buildings had job vacancies.

These include carpenters, bricklayers, lead workers and stonemasons.

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