195 new master craftsmen and women are recognised in St Paul's Church, Frankfurt

In total, 13 trades have benefited from new arrivals of young master craftsmen and women.

Alina Schulz is smiling from ear to ear. The newly qualified master chimney sweep is one of 195 men and women to recently have their master craftsperson certificates presented to them in St Paul's church, Frankfurt-Rhein-Main, by the Chamber of Crafts and Trades. Bakers, electrical engineers, hairdressers, heating fitters, custom tailors, shoemakers and bicycle mechanics: In total, 13 trades have benefited from new arrivals of young master craftsmen and women.

Some came in workwear like Alina Schulz, one of two women among seven master chimney sweeps. Besides the black uniform with gold buttons known as "Koller", she wears a top hat and has brought her husband with her. He is also a chimney sweep. The couple met each other during their training in Ulm where he is currently completing his master craftsman qualification.

"Yes, I am quite proud that I did it despite having a family," explains the 30-year old. It took her two and a half years on a part-time basis to train to become a master craftswoman. Because she had small children, the Swabian from Kornwestheim near Ludwigsburg opted for the part-time option at the trade and technical school in Frankfurt. In Ulm, which is much closer to where she lives, Schulz would only have been able to become a master craftsman on a full-time basis.

Instead, she attended college in blocks in Gutleut. Each block meant four weeks away from her family. In between, she swept chimneys as usual for three to four months in Kornwestheim.

"That was very time consuming," explains Schulz. This was also because she was given "homework" in Frankfurt. This meant working in the morning from half-past seven until 2 pm, collecting her daughter (4) and son (7) from school or nursery and taking them to taekwondo training, which, by the way, she and her children do together. It's not until the evening that she settles down to her books to study business administration or building materials science.

"We need trained specialists with the vocational experience," says Bernd Ehinger, President of the Frankfurt-Rhein-Main Chamber of Crafts and Trades, and reminds the master craftspeople in his address of "their promise to provide training in the future". Birgitta Wolff, President of the Goethe University Frankfurt, describes the promise to train as a "major undertaking but also a nice responsibility to have".

Both would like an increase in cooperation between the vocational and academic education and training, for example with a "campus for vocational training in order to set up the 130 skilled trades occupations for a successful future," says Ehinger. He advises reintroducing the school subject of craft and design.

Over the past year, the Frankfurt-Rhein-Main Chamber of Crafts and Trades ran a total of 760 successful master craftsperson examinations. Almost two thirds of the new master craftsmen and women are butchers, making it the largest group on this Saturday. They are immediately recognisable in St Paul's church by their red butchers' coats.

Full-time master craftsman completed

Marcel Winhuysen is also wearing one of these coats. The 44-year-old completed his master craftsman qualification at Chamber of Crafts and Trades' trade and technical school in Weiterstadt. After twelve weeks of full-day teaching, he achieved it last spring. Marcel, who comes from Weeze in the Lower Rhine region and works at a food wholesaler, describes his experience as having been "very demanding". "I left school 20 years ago," he says, adding that discipline had been his recipe for successfully completing the course. Trainer Gaby Konermann also commented that "having to leave professional life to sit down again and study" had been the biggest challenge for the aspiring master craftspeople. She explains that long training days from 7:45 am to 5:30 pm were normal.

For Marcel Winhuysen, all the effort has been worth it, he says. In the future he will be running four businesses thanks to his continuing vocational education and training. "I will soon have 300 employees under me."

Chimney sweep Alina Schulz is currently still employed with her husband. With her newly acquired master certificate, Schulz would like to be self-employed in the future.

Source: article in the German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau, revised by iMOVE, July 2020