As the number of skilled workers in the construction trades has plummeted in recent years, the shortage of skilled preservation craft workers has continued to grow. According to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), 81 percent of construction firms are reporting difficulty in filling salaried and hourly craft positions in the United States.
Restoration work on historic buildings simply cannot be done without skilled workers, making the training of new craftspeople a critical priority. Additionally, job training opportunities in traditional trades continue to contribute to economic recovery and growth in America's communities.
ACHP Traditional Trades Training Task Force
The ACHP has created a Traditional Trades Training Task Force to explore how the federal government, along with non-federal partners, can promote the development of a robust workforce in the skilled preservation trades.
The Task Force’s goal is to build a preservation ethic in construction trades and highlight the worth of skilled craft workers. To that end, the Task Force will consider key issues regarding preservation trades, including credentialing, apprenticeships, and curriculum development. As part of this exploration of current opportunities and future possibilities, the group developed recommendations for federal action that have been embodied in an ACHP policy statement.
ACHP Traditional Trades Training Policy Statement
On October 19, 2020, the ACHP adopted its Policy Statement on Promotion and Value of Traditional Trades Training.
The policy statement discusses the need for and the benefits of expanded traditional trades training; suggests key principles that should guide federal, state, and local workforce development and training efforts; and offers the following recommendations for federal action.
- Integrate traditional trades into existing Department of Labor apprenticeship programs.
- Encourage states to use existing Department of Education career and technical education funding for traditional trades training in state Perkins Plans.
- Encourage recipients of existing Department of Housing and Urban Development funding to address traditional trades training when meeting workforce development requirements.
- Consider options for federal support in development of open-source traditional trades training curriculum.
- Develop federal qualification standards for the traditional trades.
- Include traditional trades training when addressing deferred maintenance of historic properties under the Great American Outdoors Act.
- Promote traditional trades training in the work of conservation corps.
- Explore use of COVID-19 recovery/stimulus funding to create jobs and job training in the traditional trades.
- Utilize the Historic Preservation Fund for traditional trades training grants, as authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act.
- Explore development of sustainable, dedicated funding that would be a continuing source of revenue for traditional trades training.
In conjunction with the Task Force’s continuing work to promote traditional trades training, the ACHP will explore opportunities for encouraging implementation of the policy statement’s recommendations.
Traditional Trades Training Programs and Resources
While much remains to be done to increase training opportunities in the traditional trades, a number of educational programs and resources already exist.