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'Stately homes threatened by skills drought'

Many of Britain's most important historic buildings are under threat from the critical shortage of workers in traditional trades, a report issued today has warned.

The National Heritage Training Group study warns that the large stock of stately homes could fall into disrepair due to the skills drought.

The Prince of Wales will highlight the report during a speech this afternoon. It says that more than 500 speciality bricklayers, carpenters and roofers, 400 joiners and stonemasons and 300 thatchers, painters and decorators are needed in the next year alone to support the heritage sector.

Stephen Davis, from the Woodchester Mansion Trust, which supports an unfinished Victorian building in the Cotswolds, said the Prince wanted to see more done to encourage young people to take up craft trades.

He said: 'There's a real shortage of people in these sectors and I think the Prince feels that taking up these kind of trades should be more widely encouraged.

'There's maybe a tendency to devalue work which involves putting on overalls,' he added.

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