Climate transformation: sustainability is part of the skilled trades' DNA

Here's how sustainable the skilled trades are

The skilled trades have a key role to play in implementing the "Green Deal" objective in the European Union. This presents the skilled trades with opportunities as well as new challenges.

These aspects were the focus of the networking event "Green Deal – das Handwerk packt an" ("Green Deal – the skilled trades get involved"), to which the Minister for Economic Affairs, Daniela Schmitt, invited the working group of the Rhineland-Palatinate chambers of crafts and trades and the Rhineland-Palatinate State Chancellery to Brussels.

"Sustainability is part of the DNA of skilled trade businesses in Rhineland-Palatinate. As a key driver of the regional economy, they identify trends and embrace the concept of sustainability in the best sense of the word. They structure their business not just with an eye on the next balance sheet, but for subsequent generations – often from within their own family," explains Daniela Schmitt.

"Become climate tradespeople!"

"In this respect it is important to be at the forefront of a change in order to benefit from it economically." Schmitt also appealed to young people worried about the climate to seek out a path into the skilled trades. "Social engagement is important, however taking up training in the skilled trades means doing something really practical to combat climate change. Become climate tradespeople! The climate transformation will not succeed without you."

Kurt Krautscheid, spokesperson for the working group of the Rhineland-Palatinate chambers of crafts and trades, also emphasized that "without the skilled trades, achieving the European climate targets will not be possible." He also appealed to policymakers not to impose further demands and requirements on businesses who are currently facing challenges due to the pandemic, the skilled worker shortage and the war in Ukraine.

Same bureaucratic requirements as major companies

"Small businesses in particular are disproportionately impacted by bureaucracy. In many cases the requirements they have to meet are identical to those in major companies but without anywhere near the same resources," says Krautscheid.

On the podium, Katarina Barley, Vice-President of the European Parliament; Ralf Hellrich, General Manager of the Koblenz Chamber of Crafts and Trades, and Tim Krögel head of the representation of the German Central Association of Skilled Trades office in Brussels, discussed approaches for the implementation of the climate targets together with Minister Schmitt.

Skilled tradespeople need a reliable roadmap

Frank Gross and Eric Schaaf, directors of Die Tischlertekten GmbH & Co. KG based in Großmaischeid; Melanie Temmes, owner of Metzgerei Gries, a butchers based in Waldmohr; and Michael Zimmermann, director of Zimmermann Bedachungen GmbH in Ockenheim explained where skilled trades businesses see the major challenges and opportunities in the implementation of climate targets under the Green Deal.

They also presented their different priorities for the Fit for 55 package. "As key players in the climate transformation, our skilled trades businesses need a reliable roadmap," emphasized Bernd Elsen, Vice President of the Trier Chamber of Crafts and Trades in his closing remarks. "Climate targets should apply for as long as possible, especially in the current economic and geopolitical situation." He added that in order to implement the project as quickly as possible, policymakers in particular needed to take the measures required to meet the demand for skilled workers in Europe. "As a key component of this, vocational education and training needs to be strengthened," urged the master craftsman electrician.

Source: (magazine of the German skilled crafts sector), revised by iMOVE, January 2023