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The central role of the skilled crafts in modernisation processes in France, Germany and Europe was discussed at the meeting of the French and German chambers of skilled crafts.

The 24th meeting of the French and German Chambers of Skilled Crafts took place in Nantes. The French chambers, chaired by their president Jöel Fourny, together with the German Confederation of Chambers of Skilled Crafts (DHKT) and Hans Peter Wollseifer, President of the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts (ZDH), discussed the important role for the skilled crafts in the modernisation processes which will soon be taking place in France, Germany and Europe.

All participants wanted to campaign for the strengthening of the skilled crafts in Europe and the further development of vocational education and training. It was noted that the chambers of skilled crafts are the first point of contact for businesses in this process. Their task is to raise the problems businesses are facing at the highest level and to make sure their concerns are heard. Participants agreed that problems relating to the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine are currently of particular importance. In specific terms, this primarily concerns disrupted supply chains and sharp increases in prices.

Joël Fourny and Hans Peter Wollseifer are planning to submit a joint declaration to the German and French governments containing specific proposals. They explain that the skilled crafts must be placed at the heart of the European economy over the long term. They add that the environmental and digital transformation also impacts significantly on our skilled craft businesses as these businesses have a key role to play in making our buildings energy efficient, in using short, environmentally friendly transport routes and in facilitating sustainable mobility.
The German and French chambers of skilled crafts are therefore calling for:

  • Targeted support for sustainable innovation in the skilled crafts and the expansion of the skilled crafts, as well as provision of the long-term financial support this requires
  • The creation of a favourable economic environment to promote the digital transformation of skilled craft businesses
  • Recognition of the key role played by skilled crafts businesses primarily in regional supply chains
  • The financing of skilled crafts companies via banks to be made possible

"Over recent months business owners have doubled their efforts in order to deal with the adverse economic impacts. The current economic and social situation is presenting huge structural and organisational problems for the economic development of skilled crafts businesses. These are obstacles extending beyond national borders. Only together can we consolidate the excellence achieved by skilled crafts and ensure its proper place in European growth," explains Fourny.

It was noted that the competitiveness of skilled crafts businesses is primarily based on the skills of its qualified employees. In many skilled craft professions, however, there is a shortage of workers. Due to the huge shortage of young workers and to ensure the economic development of businesses, Chambers of trades and crafts (CMA) France and the association of the skilled crafts sector (ZDH) are calling for French and German governments to strengthen and further expand vocational education and training as the key factor in ensuring the supply of skilled workers.

This involves the following demands:

  • Support for education and training centres and the direct involvement of businesses and chambers of skilled crafts.
  • Strengthening of lifelong learning and of access to higher-level vocational education and training.
  • Improvements to the image of vocational education and training.
  • Strengthening cooperation in vocational education and training and promoting mobility in vocational education and training.

Wollseifer emphasises that the German and French skilled crafts are aware of their economic and social responsibility in shaping the future. "Europe is seeking to take the lead in sustainability, environmental protection, the energy transformation and in digitalisation, and as a continent needs a strong skilled crafts sector able to implement everything that policymakers in these sectors plan and decide upon. Most notably, it needs a strong skilled crafts sector in Germany and France – the countries which are driving European development."

First, he explains, we need to continue to overcome the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and at the same time deal with the impact of the war in Ukraine. "Skilled craft businesses, their employees and trainees are also now experiencing huge pressure in the form of rising energy costs, disrupted supply chains and rising inflation. All this requires decisive political action in Germany and France as well as in Europe – action to alleviate the adverse impacts and shape the future."

Source: ZDH.de, (association of the skilled crafts sector), revised by iMOVE, February 2023