Nothing works without the skilled trades

Getting into training

In the second "Summer of Vocational Education and Training", the partners in the Alliance for Initial and Further Training (federal government, federal states, employers and trade unions) want to encourage and motivate young people to start dual training in one of more than 320 recognised training occupations. The campaign is also targeting parents and companies. With lots of events nationwide and at federal state and regional level, the partners want to draw attention to the attractiveness of training and the great career opportunities.

At the Potsdam Chamber of Crafts and Trades' centre of excellence for energy storage and energy system management based in Götz/Groß Kreutz, the focus was also on the attractiveness and future orientation of training in the skilled trades. Here, Federal Minister of Education and Research Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP) met with skilled trade representatives and trainees to discuss career paths and requirements for using modern technologies early on in training in the energy sector.

The minister arrived at the Potsdam Chamber's training and innovation campus after a slight delay. To start with, general manager Ralf Bührig introduced the training facility with over 30 training centres. The minister then visited the vehicle, agricultural and construction machinery mechatronics engineer workshops and the electrical engineers' workshop. Here she found out about career prospects and technologies in practice which are playing a key role in supporting climate protection, the energy and mobility revolution, and digitalisation.

She was also able to talk to trainees and students following master craftsman/master craftswoman courses. Skilled trades President, Hans Peter Wollseifer, was also present. "This centre of excellence typifies the skilled trade's diverse range of activities in the area of decentralised energy technology throughout Germany. This is essential if the energy transition is to succeed," he explained.

Training revolution called for

He also stressed that only by working closely with policymakers would the skilled trades be able to succeed in focusing attention on the attractiveness of vocational education and training (VET). "In order to ensure that VET's contribution to shaping the future of our country becomes more visible and is guaranteed over the medium to long term, we need a revolution in training even before the energy and mobility revolution," he urged. In order to get sufficient skilled workers into the skilled trades, he added, it is essential that the equivalence of vocational and academic education and training is achieved under the current government. He also called for improvements to careers guidance, in particular at higher level secondary schools, together with a potential analysis for all school leavers. Skilled tradespeople are desperately needed in a wide range of sectors in order to deal with the work which needs to be done in the future. Wollseifer summed it up neatly: "Nothing works without the skilled trades."

"I believe we still need to move up a gear when it comes to careers guidance," said Stark-Watzinger. She added that it was important to tell young people about the opportunities provided by vocational education and training and to show them that it's possible to train for a profession in a "fantastic and modern environment which is fit for the future" via this route. "It will not work at all without the trainees of today who are the decision-makers of tomorrow." This is because targets in terms of the energy transition, climate protection and innovation can only be achieved with sufficient skilled workers in the skilled trades. She added that various methods need to be used in order to attract a large number of people to a career in the skilled trades. These also include skilled worker immigration and appealing to those who drop out of university.

Vocational education and training should also receive the same funding as academic education and training. The minister promised to do everything possible to establish the importance of vocational education and training pathways within society as well as their equivalence to academic career opportunities.

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