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The UK’s rich and varied cultural heritage provides significant social and economic benefits.

For this to continue, our cultural heritage needs to be cared for effectively. This will require a wide spectrum of society having an interest in working to preserve the material world, and having the knowledge, skills and understanding to do so.

To meet this challenge, a strategic approach to the provision of conservation education, training and research was conceived. The resulting National Conservation Education & Skills Strategy (NCESS) was launched in 2012.

The NCESS is designed to set the direction for conservation education. It aims to foster a collective responsibility, building connections between the built and moveable heritage sectors and the crafts and conservation professions.

​Icon facilitated the development and articulation of the NCESS. However, responsibility for delivery of the strategy is not Icon’s alone; it lies with the UK cultural heritage community
at large.


The aim of the NCESS is to encourage an appropriately educated, skilled and diverse workforce to ensure that the UK’s cultural heritage is preserved and made accessible so that it continues to provide a full range of benefits to society.

The NCESS aims to build on existing working relationships between educators and employers as well as qualifications and Professional Standards by galvanising stakeholders, bringing people together and including all those who contribute to the conservation of cultural heritage.

  • Aim 1: To promote the development and delivery of conservation education, training and skills as a joint responsibility of all stakeholders.
  • Aim 2: To map a framework of sustainable career paths that is accessible, coherent, responsive, resilient and quality assured.
  • Aim 3: To raise awareness of conservation as a subject of learning, research and enrichment, as well as a career opportunity.


The NCESS has been formally endorsed by 18 arts and heritage organisations. Download the full list of endorsements.

NCESS Bulletin & Meetings

NCESS Meeting 30 June 2015


Background research

NCESS Bulletin September 2014 

NCESS Bulletin March 2014  

NCESS Bulletin July 2013 

NCESS Bulletin June 2012 


Photo: The launch of the NCESS April 2014 c. Matt Wreford