Building Trades Named to List of Threatened Heritage

With skilled labor in short supply thanks to retirements and decades’ worth of lackluster recruitment efforts, the state’s leading historic preservation group has named the state’s building trades to its annual list of New Hampshire heritage under threat. 

 “Our historic buildings define the New Hampshire landscape; host important civic and cultural programming; and keep alive our talented pool of preservation craftspeople. These are the buildings that make our communities desirable and identifiable,” New Hampshire Preservation Alliance executive director Jennifer Goodman said in a statement. 

The Preservation Alliance took the unusual step of including people in its 2022 “Seven to Save” list in part because of the key role tradespeople play in helping preserve historic structures, the group said. This is the first time since the group began publishing these lists in the mid-2000s that a “Seven to Save” designee has been something other than a building. 

“We need to invest in our young people and the preservation trades so that these skills are passed on and tomorrow’s old house and barn owners can get the help they need,” the listing on the Preservation Alliance reads. 

The Preservation Alliance cited a recent survey indicating that most Granite Staters think that most young people are discouraged from considering a career in the trades, while nearly all think that the trades offer a fulfilling interesting and profitable career path. 

Various efforts to rectify the worker shortage have been building for some years, including pushes to change curricula at school districts, expand trades schools and create paid internship programs to take the training burden off individual contractors – some of whom don’t have the time or ability to invest years in an apprentice.