Germany’s big cities lack houses and apartments. But new buildings are not making any headway. There is a lack of craftsmen.

The construction site of the “Grand Tower” residential tower in Frankfurt

Dhe shortage of skilled workers is increasing – with growing consequences for customers. “The problem has become even more acute,” said Hans Peter Wollseifer, president of the trade. “As a result, our customers have to wait longer and longer. Of course, our companies are not happy about that either, because they want to get their jobs done quickly and efficiently. Regular customers are now also affected. ”The construction of new apartments is also increasingly being slowed down by the shortage of skilled workers, according to a study by the state development bank KfW.

The construction companies’ order books are full, but because there is a lack of skilled workers, they cannot be processed quickly enough. While the main construction trade, for example building construction companies, has been reported to fill the gap with employees from abroad, the construction trade is increasingly lacking qualified workers. KfW anticipates that more than 300,000 new apartments will be completed this year (2017: 285,000). That would be as many as not since the turn of the millennium. However, in order to combat the housing shortage effectively, forecasts indicate that 350,000 to 400,000 units will have to be built annually by 2020.

According to the study, there is a shortage of skilled workers in the plumbing, plumbing, heating and air conditioning trades. This shows the high number and the long duration of reported vacancies at the Federal Employment Agency, said KfW chief economist Jörg Zeuner. In particular, masters are difficult to find, but increasingly other qualified employees too. “The shortage of skilled workers is gradually becoming the greatest risk for an expansion of construction activity in Germany,” warned the economist.

There is a shortage of at least 150,000 craftsmen

The Federal Employment Agency found that there was a shortage of around 150,000 skilled workers, said Wollseifer. But many companies no longer reported their vacancies. “That is why we estimate the number of skilled workers lacking in the trades at 200,000 to 250,000.” In emergencies such as storm or water damage, tradespeople would continue to come quickly. “But if you want a new roof because it needs to be renewed, you may have to wait ten to twelve weeks. And there is also no all-clear: the problem will not improve in the next 18 to 24 months. “

The craft has too little offspring. “This is becoming more and more difficult because on the one hand there are fewer and fewer school leavers and on the other hand there is an urge to study.” Although the number of newly concluded apprenticeship contracts is increasing, the skilled trades will not be able to fill all apprenticeships this year either, said Wollseifer. “At the moment there are more than 30,000 apprenticeships available in the skilled trades alone – despite the very good future and career prospects. That will be reduced by the end of September, but we expect that around 20,000 apprenticeship positions will still not be filled. ”In order to inspire young people, recognition for the craft and appreciation for practical training and work are necessary.

Do master training for free?

Wollseifer also demanded that the master craftsman training and examination be completely free of charge in the future – as well as that studying be free of charge up to the exam. To provide the master free of charge, around 60 million euros would be required. “It should be worth it to our society to ensure masterful skills for the future as well.”

In addition, the craft needs foreign skilled workers. “An immigration law must primarily focus on professionally qualified people. We want to recruit young skilled workers from abroad, but the procedures have to become much simpler. Our proposal is to conclude migration agreements with all countries that have a comparable education system and level. “

Left parliamentary group leader Sahra Wagenknecht criticized an immigration law for skilled workers. “Germany has to train its own skilled workers,” she told the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung”. The main reason for the labor shortage is an underfunded education system. “Internationalism does not mean: enticing the middle class away from poor countries in order to practice wage dumping here.”