Research Report: Understanding and Advancing the Preservation Trades (2023)

Cover of preservation trades workforce report with title banner and picture of woodworking tools in the background

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Across the Northeast United States, a significant number of older homes and historic buildings are in need of rehabilitation and repair. Properly maintaining historic properties can require a high level of specialized knowledge and experience, such as in carpentry, masonry, and plastering. In recent years, many Northeastern property owners and employers have noted workforce shortages within the building and construction trades, broadly, and these shortages are acutely felt within preservation trades specializations. A lack of workers who are skilled in these trades impacts a wide variety of economic, social, cultural, and environmental dimensions. Such implications include the availability and safety of housing stock, sense of place and vibrancy of cities and towns, and the ability of communities to sustainably (re)use their existing resources.

Showing a collective interest in the preservation and restoration trades workforce, four statewide preservation nonprofits (representing NY, VT, NH, and ME) joined forces in 2021 to create the Northeast Regional Initiative for the Preservation Trades. The initiative’s aim is to better understand this issue and develop courses of action to foster a more robust and sustainable preservation trades workforce. In 2022, specialists from UNH Cooperative Extension’s Community and Economic Development team partnered with this initiative to lead a multi-methods research project consisting of a survey, interviews, and focus groups with trades professionals, preservation specialists, workforce development professionals, educators, and other stakeholders.

This research report includes insights from research participants and covers topics such as perceptions of career paths, compensation, training needs and opportunities, and recommendations for future actions.

The appendix (including complete survey responses), a 2-page view (11x17) version of the report, and a recording of the report presentation webinar are also available. 

Project contributors:

UNH Extension Research Team: Jada Lindblom, Ph.D., Molly Donovan, Scott Slattery

Project Support: Sandra Hickey, Patricia Prescott

Project Partners:
Preservation League of New York State
Preservation Trust of Vermont
New Hampshire Preservation Alliance
Maine Preservation

The project is supported through grants from the Moe Family Fund for Statewide and Local Partners through the National Trust for Historic Preservation and The 1772 Foundation.

For more information about the Northeast Regional Initiative for the Preservation Trades:


Community & Economic Development Field Specialist
Associate Field Specialist
Phone: 603-527-5475
Office: UNH Cooperative Extension, Taylor Hall, Durham, NH 03824

Community and Economic Development Field Specialist
Extension Field Specialist, Community & Economic Development
Office: UNH Cooperative Extension Community & Economic Development, Taylor Hall, Durham, NH 03824