Yorkshire and the Humber's heritage is worth £2 billion to economy

New research published today by Historic England on behalf of the Historic Environment Forum shows the value of heritage to Yorkshire and the Humber’s economy.

Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 6:00 am
Templar Hotel was granted heritage status last year

Heritage is an important sector which contributes to economic prosperity and growth through jobs in the heritage and construction sectors and from tourism. The new report also 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[i]. The data for Yorkshire and the Humber shows that heritage provides a total GVA of £2 billion and more than 41,000 jobs .

GVA means gross value added - the measure of the value of goods and services produced in an area, industry or sector.


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 £1.14 of GVA is supported in the wider economy of Yorkshire and the Humber thanks to the supply chains of the heritage sector and due to the expenditure of their employees.

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In 2018, heritage-related construction activities generated £7.1bn in GVA in England employing more than 100,000 people. The ongoing 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 Yorkshire and the Humber. For every job directly related to heritage, such as conservation architect or archaeologist, 1.27 jobs are supported through their activity.


As a tourism driver, heritage drives millions of inbound and national visits. In 2018, £1.3 billion was spent on heritage-related visits and trips in the Yorkshire and the Humber from 19.1m visits.


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 per cent of firms in the heritage sector have a skills gap – when employees lack the skills, experience or qualifications to be fully proficient at their job - while six per cent 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.

Adala Leeson, head of socio-economic analysis and evaluation at Historic England, said: “We are concerned about skills gaps and skills shortages in the heritage sector because they create a negative impact on wages, productivity and economic growth. The key way to address this is through in-work training and we are leading the sector on the development of early career support through apprenticeships.

“Six new apprenticeship standards have been developed covering entry level to postgraduate level, and in 2019 we launched a brand new programme providing 11 heritage apprenticeship opportunities in our own organisation. We also provide ongoing career support through our continuing professional development training programmes.”