Region's Heritage worth over £2 billion to Economy Reveals New Report

27 Jan 2020 11:16
Published by: Kian French

New research published by Historic England on behalf of the Historic Environment Forum, shows the value of heritage to the North West economy. Heritage is an important sector which contributes to economic prosperity and growth through jobs in the heritage and construction sectors and from tourism. This new report has a focus on skills, examining the skills needs and gaps in the heritage sector.

The latest figures have been collected and analysed for Historic England by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) and are published in Heritage and the Economy 2019. The data for the North West shows that:

  • Heritage provides a total GVA of £2.5bn (1.4% of the North West's GVA)
  • Heritage provides over 46,000 jobs
  • For every directly-related job in the heritage sector, 1.26 jobs are supported through their activity


The historic environment is intrinsically linked to economic activity with a large number of economic activities occurring within it, dependent on it or attracted to it. The heritage sector produces a total GVA of £31bn in England.

For every £1 of GVA directly generated, an additional £1.13 of GVA is supported in the wider economy of the North West thanks to the supply chains of the heritage sector and due to the expenditure of their employees.


In 2018, heritage-related construction activities generated £7.1bn in GVA in England employing over 100,000 people. The on-going need to repair, maintain and restore historic buildings creates strong dependencies between the heritage, construction and development sectors when specialist heritage skills and knowledge is needed.


Heritage is an important employer in the North West. For every job directly related to heritage, such as conservation architect or archaeologist, 46,000 jobs are supported through their activity.


As a tourism driver, heritage drives millions of inbound and national visits. In 2018, £1.623 was spent on heritage-related visits and trips in the North West from 25.4m visits. It is forecast that in 2019 inbound tourism to England will grow by 3% to 38.9 million and spending will boost by 7% to 24.5 billion.


Historic England commissioned the Centre for Economics and Business Research to examine the skills needs and skills gaps in the heritage sector in England. It is estimated that:

  • 11% of firms in the heritage sector have a skill gap - when employees lack the skills, experience or qualifications to be fully proficient at the job.
  • 6% of firms operating within the heritage sector had at least one skills shortage vacancy - when they find it hard to get staff with the appropriate skills and experience to fill outstanding vacancies.

In comparison with other sectors, the heritage sector has a relatively high incidence of skills shortage vacancies. It is estimated that approximately £140m worth of potential GVA was 'lost' in the heritage sector due to skills shortages in 2016. University College London research highlights that skills lacking are handling digital collections, artefact conservation, archaeological fieldwork and post-fieldwork analysis.

Catherine Dewar, Regional Director for Historic England in the North West, said: "We are concerned about skill gaps and skills shortages in the heritage sector. We think a great way to start to address this is through in-work training and we're leading the sector on the development of early career support through apprenticeships. Last year we launched a brand-new programme providing 11 heritage apprenticeships at Historic England and we now have some great new colleagues working with us. We also provide on-going career support through our continuing professional development training programmes which remain popular with people in all sectors."

The full report can be read at  

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