Workers fix train tracks in Cologne, Germany | Photo: Picture-alliance/Geisler-Fotopress/C.Hardt
Workers fix train tracks in Cologne, Germany | Photo: Picture-alliance/Geisler-Fotopress/C.Hardt

18,000 refugees are currently training to work in the skilled trade sector, the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts (ZDH) says. That's a major increase from the year before. Overall, one in two refugees receiving vocational training in Germany are learning a skilled trade.

Hans Peter Wollseifer, president of the Zentralverband des Deutschen Handwerks (German Confederation of Skilled Crafts, ZDH), said there were 18,000 refugees who were doing a vocational training in the skilled trade sector in Germany. That is about a 40 percent increase from the previous year, according to Wollseifer.

"We are taking on this task of integration because we can do it, but the effort is enormous," the ZDH head told the Tagesspiegel newspaper. Many of the refugees have had terrible experiences before coming here and need special attention, Wollseifer explained. That's why he thinks that those who have already been trained should be allowed to stay, adding, "anything else would be madness, would destroy the motivation of companies - and would be a breach of trust on the part of politicians."

Wollseifer was referring to asylum seekers, who have successfully completed a vocational training or traineeship, but whose asylum claims have been denied. Rejected asylum seekers are usually required to leave the country by a certain deadline. The ZDH and various business and trades associations favor a change in the asylum law that would ease restrictions for well-integrated rejected asylum seekers.

Extra help needed

There are around one million employers in the skilled crafts sector in Germany with around 5.4 million employees. Though Wollseifer welcomes the great increase in refugee trainees, the sector is still facing a significant labor shortage at large. 

"The industry is facing a shortage of 250,000 workers, which is a problem for us. Every second business is looking for workers," said Wollseifer according to epd.

He added that there were 17,000 apprenticeships that were unfilled in 2018. "The foundation of skilled trade, which our economy is based on, is quite frail," said Wollseifer. 


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