A Qualified Workforce: Mark Priestman asks if you've got WoTT it takes for the challenges of 2023

Mark Priestman

Mark Priestman is a Partner at Priestman Associates LLP, a leading façade preservation project consultancy, from stonemasonry and heritage skills through to site supervision and conservation management. The partnership is trusted by the leading brands of the sector as an NVQ provider for experienced, upskiller and apprentice workers. 07876 687212 mark@priestmanweb.com. www.priestmanweb.com

In one of the Priestman Associates delivery modules we develop the question of whether or not businesses, with their leadership and workforce, have got WoTT it takes not just to survive but to thrive?

In summary, the WoTT acronym groups the following key assets of skills development:

  • Workplace Skills
  • Technical Skills
  • Transferable Skills

All these personal assets add to the sum of the value we offer in our work environment and our work relationships. 

Workplace skills are all about the skills we need in our organisation. They include the way we interact between management, operatives, and client representatives. It can be about grasping the bigger picture of the large and (sometimes more important) small interactions between the processes and people around us.

Omit this asset on appraisals and lament at leisure. An operative with high workplace skills might well be the hidden facilitator who gets stuff done. Sometimes known as soft skills, it can hit hard if they are absent from your project.

Technical skills tend to be most easily recognised as important. These are what are often called the hard skills – an operative’s ability to fulfil the method statement. This is what a contractor gets paid for: fixers who can fix stone; cleaners who can clean stone; restorers who can repair it... For supervisors and managers, it includes an ability to prepare for the project, programme it, monitor it, report, inform, advise, gain agreement... basically manage.

Transferable skills relate to how well competency on one job transfers to another. Sometimes an employer switches off at this point. But I’d encourage them not to because 1) this is not simply about someone you have invested in leaving and going elsewhere, and 2) you also recruit employees who have learnt skills elsewhere.

Transferable skills might include aspects such as how much exposure a supervisor has had to liaising with conservation officers or user groups. Or how much skill a manager has displayed in handling difficult customer relationships.

It might be that a workplace skill also becomes a transferable skill when a project moves from one contractor to another and some labour moves over to the new contractor. Or a case of you moving operatives around your various projects based on an appraisal of the experience they have gained and the expertise they have built up.

Interestingly, the word ‘appraisal’ derives from an original meaning of ‘setting a value’, or, in other words, putting a price on something.

Perhaps this is a good point to consider our value and to make sure we have got WoTT it takes. We should make sure our value system for conducting appraisals acknowledges not only technical know how but also workplace and transferable skills.


I am delighted to say Priestman Associates is the winner of the tender to deliver the popular CITB Specialist Applied-Skills Programmes (SAPs) in Stone Fixing and Façade Preservation at level 2, and Heritage Stonemasonry at level 3.

The SAPs programmes reduce time away from site, allow those on them to benefit from mentoring, and offer assessment for an NVQ. For CITB-registered firms the programme works out fee neutral.

As you read this, Priestman Associates is about to launch its next cohort of SAPs, so if you’d like to get in on the act please get in touch with me using the contact details below the picture above.


If your CSCS card is expiring and cannot be renewed (perhaps because the route to CSCS cards is now through qualifications only [NVQs] and yours was obtained under ‘grandfather rights‘ industry accreditation, which is no longer an acceptable route), or you want to up-grade to skilled operative, advance crafts, supervisor or manager, the OSAT (on-site assessment) route is likely to be of interest to you. If you need help in this regard, please do give me a shout.