See what you have achieved with your own hands

See what you have achieved with your own hands

Too few apprentices, too few skilled workers. In the handicraft this tendency is clear. A look at three companies in Nidda reveals considerations that are not entirely commonplace.

The much lamented shortage of skilled workers in craft businesses has early causes: Few young people opt for appropriate training or they drop out of apprenticeships. There is no shortage of information opportunities, internships during school hours, and digital training platforms. Where is the problem?

Master stonemason Martin Röhling has two young journeymen in his team of six who were trained in his company and continue to work here. Nevertheless, he finds it difficult to find new trainees, even though he can offer several training courses: as a stonemason/stone sculptor, as a natural stone mechanic and as a stone cutter. Is the work physically too heavy? Röhling: "We now have many tools, such as cranes, plate trucks and more. That is why stonemasonry has long ceased to be a male-only profession. At the master school in Aschaffenburg, where I teach, four young female colleagues are currently gaining qualifications. Women are often more creative than men, have fine motor and drawing potentials."

Who is motivated, creates the master

Does the craft offer too few opportunities for advancement?? After all, not everyone has the capital to start their own business. Röhling disagrees: "Anyone who is motivated and suitable can become a master stonemason after years as a journeyman, in part with financial support from the company or the Federal Training Assistance Act, and also earns good money as an employed master stonemason." He could qualify as a technician, continue his education relevant to the trade, for example as a restorer. Röhling adds: "He can supplement professional practice with teaching assignments at vocational schools or expert work. With the vocational baccalaureate after the master craftsman's examination, he can orient himself towards studies; in the stonemasonry profession, for example, in geology, architecture or art history."

In a study, the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) asked 1,700 schoolchildren about their basic expectations of the occupation. The central desire – varied and creative work with the use of the latest technology – very much applies to craft professions. But: Just as important to the young people was whether the profession is respected, whether it gives them recognition in their social environment. Thus the BiBB president Professor Dr. Friedrich Hubert Esser makes a clear demand: "Vocational orientation in schools must not be based purely on factual information, but must also offer identification opportunities."Incidentally, Esser himself began his career with an apprenticeship as a baker.

According to the study, the attitude of the parents also plays a role. If only a degree is fully recognized by the family and the skilled trades are held in low esteem, this has a negative impact. Jörg Henrich, managing director of Auto-Galerie in Nidda and Düdelsheim, can offer a number of training courses in his company, from automotive mechatronics technician to automotive salesman, from painter to body builder. He questions whether a course of study alone can be the basis for a happy professional biography: "Contrast an apprenticeship as a carpenter, in the metal, construction, or automotive trades with one of the more image-boosting courses of study, such as business administration or law, for a 30-year old. The journeyman craftsman may have gone on to further education, but in any case has earned well for ten years, perhaps built a house, started a family. The lawyer or business economist has only recently finished his studies, may have to pay back BaFöG benefits and first create a professional position for himself. And whether his degree will really lead to a position on the board of a DAX-listed company is another question."

First a bricklayer, then a bachelor and master

What the young trainees say? After graduating from high school, 20-year-old Nick Kiel opted for a dual study program. In August, he started an apprenticeship as a bricklayer at the Lupp group of companies. Even after 110 years of existence, the company has remained a family business with 750 employees and offers seven apprenticeships in construction, engineering and business administration. In April 2022, Kiel will begin his civil engineering studies (FH), which will include on-the-job work and practical training at the Frankfurt EBL training center. After three years, he will graduate as a journeyman bricklayer, after nine semesters with a bachelor's degree at the same time and still plans to study for a master's degree. "A day at a construction site is more strenuous than a day at school. I first had to build up my stamina, but I enjoyed working on the construction site from day one. For me, it's a balance to my studies, just like sports are for others. In the evening, you can see what you've done and – in contrast to studying – you get the salary of a bricklayer trainee right from the start, and the company pays the tuition fees," he says.

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