A multi-state research collaborative led by community and economic development specialists at the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension seeks to assess the current workforce of trades professionals who work at least part-time on historic properties. A public survey, open through July, seeks to understand workforce development challenges, barriers, opportunities, and successes in the Northeast region. The Northeast Regional Initiative for the Preservation Trades is a cooperative project between the Preservation League of New York State, Preservation Trust of Vermont, the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance, and Maine Preservation. The project is funded by grants from the Moe Family Fund for Statewide and Local Partners through the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the 1772 Foundation.
“From high-style historic architecture to vernacular housing stock, the restoration and rehabilitation of older buildings is only possible because of skilled tradespeople,” said Jay DiLorenzo, President of the Preservation League of NYS. “We often hear from constituents across the state who simply do not know where to turn as they tackle their own preservation projects. We are excited to work with our colleagues across the Northeast to assess the true state of preservation trades in our region, and we are grateful to the Moe Family Fund at the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the 1772 Foundation for funding this important work.”
Nationwide, the status of the trades workforce has become a major concern for communities, as many tradespeople enter retirement despite the demand for workers remaining very high. According to projections from the National Association of Home Builders, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a need over the next two years for an additional 2.2 million construction workers in the United States. In the Northeast region, the relatively high number of historic properties demands specialized skills and knowledge pertaining to building maintenance and preservation. Identifying ways to diversify the workforce and encourage young people to explore preservation-oriented trade careers are key interests for the Northeast region.
The current survey inquires about workforce shortages and training opportunities, as well as perceptions of historic preservation more broadly. Tradespeople, as well as historic property owners, preservation advocates, and others with some level of engagement in the upkeep of older buildings in the four-state region are invited to participate. The survey is voluntary and is expected to take about 10-15 minutes to complete.
The survey phase of this research will be followed by interviews and focus groups with tradespeople, trades students, instructors, and others engaged with the preservation of old homes and buildings. The research team aims to generate recommendations for the partner organizations on how to foster a vibrant and sustainable preservation trades workforce in the Northeast region. This project is intended to complement related initiatives happening on a national scale, such as the Campaign for Historic Trades.
To take the survey or learn more about this project, visit preservenys.org/preservation-trades. Questions about this research may be directed to Dr. Jada Lindblom, firstname.lastname@example.org.