Elke Büdenbender visited the Technology Centre run by the Chamber of Crafts and Trades in Lüneburg.
Vocational education and training is one of Elke Büdenbender's main areas of interest, so she made it a priority during her visit to the Centre to talk in depth to trainees as they honed their craft at their benches. At Faltin, a joinery and furniture-making business in Amelinghausen near Lüneburg, she also had the opportunity to see people actually going about their work as apprentices, journeymen (qualified apprentices) and master craftsmen.
Her visit focused on access to general education, vocational training and continuing education. In the Technology Centre workshops and at the joinery firm, she concentrated in particular on the concerns of the apprentices and journeymen, asking questions such as: "What does continuing education to become a master craftsman cost? Does the company grant you leave to pursue further training? Why did you decide to pursue a career in this trade? What are the chances of being taken on after your final apprenticeship exam?" Before taking her law degree, Büdenbender herself decided to go down the training route. After gaining her intermediate secondary school leaving certificate, she completed an apprenticeship to become an industrial clerk at a machine building firm in Siegen.
"Vocational education and training is an issue that is very close to my heart, as I myself went down that path", explained Büdenbender in Lüneburg. Craft trades are an extremely important pillar of the German economy, she said, adding that: "The dual training system for skilled craft trades is an excellent foundation for a stable future."
Elke Büdenbender's visit was a great honour for Chamber President Detlef Bade: "Our educational institutions in Braunschweig, Lüneburg, Stade and Königslutter provide outstanding training and continuing education, as well as doing excellent integration work." According to Bade, the Technology Centres give apprentices and journeymen the opportunity to try things out far from the pressures of the day-to-day business environment, and to be supervised and supported by their trainers.
The Chamber of Crafts and Trades ensure that high-quality professional qualifications of a uniform standard are achieved throughout Germany, explained Hans Peter Wollseifer, President of the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts (ZDH). As such, they are a guarantor of success for the market economy. "In their role as the nation's trainers, the skilled craft trades in Germany have a training ratio almost twice that found in the economy as a whole", stressed Wollseifer. He added that motivated, productive people would find excellent career prospects in craft trades.
One of the President and Elke Büdenbender's objectives is to get more information about skilled crafts into Gymnasium schools, which traditionally have a more academic focus, so that pupils there too are made aware of the great opportunities craft trades have to offer.