"Our country needs skilled workers like these"

Angela Merkel receives winning Word Skills team "Our country needs skilled workers like these"

Chancellor Angela Merkel has praised the performance of the German WorldSkills team. "You are ambassadors for our dual vocational training system," said the Chancellor when she welcomed the German WorldSkills team to the Federal Chancellery. Germany returned from this year’s WorldSkills competition in Russia with two gold medals, three bronze medals and 19 medallions for excellence.

Chancellor Angela Merkel during a reception for the German WorldSkills team

At the reception for the German WorldSkills team, Angela Merkel tests a self-programmed robot.

Photo: Bundesregierung/Steins

Gold medal winner Janis has become accustomed to public appearances since August. About a quarter of a million people watched him in the Russian city of Kazan, where he performed various exercises in wall and floor tiling over a four-day period. Nevertheless, it is clear that the 21-year-old is slightly nervous now. In only a few minutes the Chancellor will be congratulating him in person. "You don’t get an opportunity like this often in your life," says the young man from Aalen in Swabia, fastening the button of his black jacket.

Next to him stand Sophie Charlotte and Thomas, who won a bronze medal for their performance in Russia. Their task was to programme a robot so that it could build a Russian doll or matryoshka from various components. Sophie Charlotte, in particular, sees the invitation to the Federal Chancellery along with the 100-strong WorldSkills Germany team as a "huge recognition of their achievements".

Ambassadors of skilled crafts and trades and German training

"All of you have demonstrated stamina, sportsmanship, skills and talent," declares the Chancellor as she thanks the champions. "You are excellent ambassadors of skilled crafts and trades and German training." Skilled workers like this are needed to ensure that the ‘made in Germany’ label continues to enjoy such respect in future too, stresses the Chancellor.

Now it is Janis’ turn – and he shows a piece of work he produced specially for today – a tile mosaic in the colours of the logo of WorldSkills Germany. "How long did that take you?" the Chancellor wants to know. "Three hours for this one," answers Janis self-assuredly, and is rewarded with an approving look.

Try internships before deciding on a profession

Janis only discovered his tiling skills and his enthusiasm for the job after a circuitous professional route, he tells us later. He started various other vocational training courses, but dropped out. "That is why I would say to all young people – try lots of internships to find out what you really enjoy doing and what you are really good at," says Janis on the basis of his own experience.

Sophie Charlotte and Thomas now introduce Emilia to the Chancellor. Emilia is a small robot which they have programmed for today. Emilia’s squeaky voice rings out through the Federal Chancellery, "Hello Dr Merkel, It is a great honour to meet you." Angela Merkel is delighted and shakes hands with Emilia.

German government strengthening the dual training system

High-tech or traditional skills and crafts – the German government aims to further strengthen the full spectrum of dual vocational training. Angela Merkel makes particular mention of the reintroduction of mandatory master craftsman/woman qualifications in twelve trades and crafts and the TVET Act which provides for minimum remuneration for trainees.

The Chancellor says she believes it is important that the opportunities offered by dual vocational training be even better recognised – also in comparison to academic professions. "The world needs people with a practical approach to life," states Angela Merkel, and her audience clearly agrees.

She doesn’t need to convince Janis the tile-layer. He is soon to take his master craftsman qualifications and then wants to start his own company. Until then, alongside his work, he plans lots of appearances as a speaker in schools and chambers of skilled crafts and trades, where he will be reporting on his experience as a gold medal winner. The next WorldSkills competition is due to take place in two years – a chance for new talent.

The WorldSkills Competition was held this August in Russian city of Kazan. The German team won two gold medals, three bronze medals and 19 medallions for excellence. A total of 39 skilled young people from the crafts, industry and services sectors represented Germany.