THE construction industry is sending out a national plea for new recruits to learn traditional crafts as part of National Construction Week this week.

Pupils across the county responded to this call on Tuesday when Year 11 pupils attending a building craft occupations vocational construction course, visited the Chiltern Open Air Museum in Chalfont St Giles.

The visit provided the students with an example of a historic site that has been rescued from neglect and demolition.

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings warns: We can't restore and maintain our best-loved buildings without the right skills. The UK has almost five million historic buildings which need to be looked after by skilled craftspeople in order to preserve our national heritage. Much loved historical buildings in Bucks could well be threatened if traditional building and restoration techniques are allowed to die out."

The Hughenden Manor estate, near High Wycombe, is able to depend on National Trust builders and restorers to maintain its wonderful heritage. Other treasures such as High Wycombe's All Saints' Parish Church do not receive such specialist assistance and is responsible for conducting their own work.

Many historic buildings in the same position depend on a decreasing pool of private firms to complete any specialist restoration projects they may need to undertake.

The construction industry's calls for more people to take up careers in traditional building crafts is as important in Bucks as it is across the rest of the country.

Alistair Collin of ConstructionSkills says: "National Construction Week has contributed to thousands of new recruits entering construction each year, however, we'd like to raise awareness of the UK's craft skills needs."

National Construction Week, which comes to a close today, has allowed thousands of young people across the UK to have the chance to experience traditional building techniques for themselves. It has been made possible for students in the Bucks area to help contribute to the future of local heritage.

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