Scotland’s waterways seek to plug skills gap

Scottish Canals and Historic Scotland are recruiting for an engineer in a scheme designed to safeguard the future of the nation’s 250-year-old waterways.

A maintenance vessel on the Union Canal between Lochin Basin and Harrison Moorings. Picture: Bill Henry

A lottery funded bursary training placement for a Heritage Engineer is being offered to a prospective candidate, who will be expected to maintain and repair historic locks, bridges and other structures alongside the Scottish Canals’ maintenance team.

The 12-month placement will see the new recruit undertake work on the Union, Monkland and Forth & Clyde Canals.

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The post holder would be trained in a range of techniques, including masonry repair, grouting and pointing, cutting and working with stone, and timber repairs and replacement.

The Falkirk Wheel, right. Picture: Craig Stephen

The appointment is part of the Lottery Fund’s Skills for the Future project, which aims to plug skills gaps in the heritage sector.

Richard Millar, director of Heritage, Enterprise and Sustainability at Scottish Canals, said: “As the thoroughfares that stoked the fires of the industrial revolution, Scotland’s canals are a key part of the nation’s history. Today, they are in the midst of a renaissance, attracting 22 million visitations every year and playing an important role in the communities that line their banks.

“Working on the locks, bridges and banks of the Lowland Canals, the Heritage Engineer will utilise traditional skills to ensure the waterways endure for another 250 years, helping to deliver the aims laid out in our Heritage Strategy and improving access to the rich built heritage of Scotland’s canals.

“Scottish Canals already hosts a Heritage Lottery Fund bursary placement and it’s fantastic that we’ll be able to offer another vitally important workplace training opportunity in these tough economic times. I’d encourage anyone interested in the post to get in touch.”

David Mitchell, Director of Conservation, Historic Scotland, said: “This placement underlines Historic Scotland’s commitment to the traditional skills required to care for Scotland’s built heritage. The ‘Skills for the Future Project’ creates vocational training opportunities and this exciting opportunity with Scottish Canals will see the new bursary holder gain practical skills within heritage engineering and valuable work experience on live projects”

The deadline for applications is 15th November 2013, with the successful candidate taking up the post in January 2014.

Those interested in the opportunity can find out more on Historic Scotland’s website or Scottish Canals’ website (