Associations present 5-point plan to address shortage of skilled workers

At a press conference, four central German associations together with IG Metall have defined five steps policymakers can take to contend with the shortage of skilled workers. Their demands include an emergency programme.

The central associations representing electrical technology (ZVEH), plumbing, heating and air conditioning (ZVSHK), carpenters and joiners (TSD) and the metalworking craft trade (BV Metall) together with IG Metall believe that implementation of the climate and energy transformation is being placed at risk. The reason for this is the shortage of skilled workers.

On Wednesday, alongside Ralf Kutzner, managing director and member of the IG Metall executive board, the presidents, used a five-point plan to call for policymakers to take concrete steps to address the shortage of new workers and qualified skilled workers in the skilled trades.

According to the associations, the building renovation sector alone is facing a shortage of 190,000 skilled workers. They explain how the backlog of renovations to the 19.2 million residential buildings is placing the climate targets at risk. The lack of renovation of building shells and outdated energy technology means these buildings are responsible for up to 30 percent of greenhouse gases in Germany.

The associations have made these five specific demands:

  1. Emergency programme: The federal government should attach specific targets and numbers to energy efficiency, the decarbonisation of heating grids and to a new building energy law. This includes specific implementation steps and reliable funding for renovation. Policymakers must also assess the skilled worker situation and do so continually and transparently
  2. Training and qualification: Policymakers must ensure equivalence of vocational and academic education and training. All the vocational education and training pathways deserve respect. This requires expansion of the upgrading grant (BAföG) and the waiving of costs for advanced and continuing education and training, such as master craftsperson training.
  3. Digitalisation: Building technology and the renovation skilled trades require optimal, digital ecosystems to enable the networking of skilled craftspeople and other stakeholders such as energy consultants, regulatory authorities and funding providers. This step will help ensure efficient cooperation and cooperation across the specialisms.
  4. Collective bargaining coverage: Ensuring the supply of skilled workers will succeed with good working and training conditions safeguarded by collective bargaining agreements. Government-funded renovation measures therefore need to be linked to the collective bargaining coverage of businesses.
  5. Sector dialogue: The central associations and IG Metall are expecting dialogue between the sector and policymakers in order to arrive at firm agreements in terms of securing a supply of skilled workers and climate targets.

Policy makers must enhance the status of vocational education and training

The associations explained again the huge efforts they have already made themselves in terms of the next generation of workers by using appropriately targeted advertising campaigns on a range of media channels and by cooperating with schools and other educational institutions. However, they explain, without policymakers using appropriate funding to enhance the status of vocational education and training, it is no longer possible to further exploit the potential in terms of skilled workers.

The association presidents emphasised that in Saxony in particular, they are also in agreement with IG Metall in terms of collective bargaining coverage. Highly qualified work deserves the appropriate working conditions with fair remuneration.

Thomas Radermacher, president of Carpenters and Jointer Germany [Tischler Schreiner Deutschland] noted that collective bargaining coverage in well-run companies is never in question anyway. According to Lothar Hellmann, the electrical skilled trades declared collective bargaining agreements as generally binding back in 1996.

In this respect, it is also not surprising, he explains, that the employer associations have come together with worker representatives of IG Metall for these initiatives. In huge tasks such as these, alliances must be formed.

Source: (website of the newspaper for the German skills sector), revised by iMOVE, June 2022