29 Nov 2021

Blazing a Trail: Conservation Degree Apprentices at the University of Lincoln

University of Lincoln welcomed the first apprentices in England to embark on a degree apprenticeship pathway for conservation

Icon has registered to be the End Point Assessment organisation for the newly developed Cultural Heritage Conservation Technician and Conservator apprenticeship standards. This is a natural role for Icon as the professional body for the conservation profession in the UK, and is crucial in helping us to maintain the high levels of professional practice expected from conservation professionals. You can read more about this here.

We are delighted that the University of Lincoln are now set up to recruit for the Level 7 Cultural Heritage Conservator standard and deliver the training. Senior Lecturers in Conservation Dr. Cathy Daly and Dr. Lynda Skipper discuss the trailblazing degree apprenticeship.


The University of Lincoln was delighted to welcome our first two cultural heritage conservation apprentices in October 2021. They are the first in England to embark on a degree apprenticeship pathway for conservation and we are excited to begin this journey with them. To celebrate this milestone, we will host an online event for National Apprenticeship Week in February 2022, together with our trailblazing students and their employers.

The apprenticeship pathway offers a new route into the conservation profession, providing an opportunity to combine paid conservation work with academic training and Icon's apprenticeship accreditation. As such the apprenticeship degree significantly broadens education provision in conservation, and most importantly for us, it will increase the employability and diversity of our students.

The University of Lincoln is the first academic provider to offer the new level 7 Cultural Heritage Conservator apprenticeship in England (Heritage Conservation | MA | University of Lincoln). The course runs alongside our existing programme of undergraduate and postgraduate taught degrees. On completion, students will gain an MA in Heritage Conservation from the University of Lincoln and complete a separate End Point Assessment for the apprenticeship qualification.

All candidates need to apply through their employers, and must be working in a role where they can gain the required conservation knowledge, skills and behaviours as set out in the Apprenticeship standard (Cultural heritage conservator (degree) / Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education). If we take the example of our current apprentices, one works in a commercial building conservation company and one in a museum. The University works closely with employers to determine the suitability of candidates. To date this has been existing members of staff, but it could also be a new employee recruited specifically as an apprentice. Course fees are funded through the apprenticeship levy scheme, so that there is no cost to the student and negligible cost to employers. 

Our apprentices spend 80% of their time building skills in the workplace and 20% studying at the University, or taking part in course-related activities. Many of these are online and apprentices do not need to be located in Lincoln, but must travel to campus occasionally for in person sessions perhaps 10 times in a semester. The apprenticeship may take 5 years although shorter pathways are available for students who qualify for accreditation of prior learning or have prior conservation experience.

We'd like to thank everyone who has been involved in the development of the apprenticeship standards and contributed towards the development of the course including Icon and the Historic Environment Trailblazer group. We invite anyone with an interest in meeting our apprentices and finding out more about the course to join us online on Wednesday February 9th 11.00-12.30. You can book your free ticket via Eventbrite here.