Craft President Jörg Dittrich has warned politicians of additional burdens on the economy in the crisis. "We need relief from taxes and duties and above all from bureaucracy," said Dittrich on Wednesday at the start of the International Crafts Fair in Munich: "Bureaucracy is now strangling us." The craft can deal with crises. But politics should "not only ban quickly, we also have to enable it quickly". Otherwise the goals of the energy transition cannot be implemented.
Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) said that crafts would become "the main force behind the transformation in Germany": "I know that many companies are groaning and groaning under the high prices", but "I believe that crafts will become an economic engine". . He defended the planned ban on new gas and oil heating systems from 2024. The federal government is planning to have 500,000 heat pumps by 2024. The problems must be addressed: "Germany cannot afford to go back to the old comfort." There will be funding programs for those who cannot bear the costs of the changeover.
Viktoria Krastel, winner of the Hessian Founder's Prize in the "Sustainable Succession" category, pointed out that both material and skilled workers are in short supply. "And who pays for that in the end?" The Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) called for more pragmatic solutions. The Federal Network Agency already fears electricity rationing. Half of the approximately 41 million households in Germany are heated with natural gas and a quarter with heating oil. 600,000 new oil and gas heating systems were installed last year.
Expensive energy and inflation
According to the credit information agency Creditreform, the expensive energy and inflation are causing enormous problems for the skilled trades. Two-thirds of the companies assessed their business situation as positive at the moment. But the earnings expectations have collapsed, the willingness to invest is on the ground. "In connection with declining incoming orders and the turnaround in interest rates, there are signs of a downturn in the trades," said Patrik-Ludwig Hantzsch, head of Creditreform's economic research.
Creditreform surveyed more than 1,300 craft businesses in Germany in January and February. Low equity ratios and dwindling reserves have already left their mark. The number of bankruptcies in the trade increased by 12 percent to 3,270 last year. "The significantly deteriorated business prospects are particularly evident in the earnings expectations, which have collapsed compared to the previous year," said Hantzsch. At best, the companies expected a stable earnings situation, almost every fourth respondent expected falling profits.
Only 47 percent of the companies wanted to invest in the near future. Increasing financing costs and the weak development of orders meant that even the urgently needed replacement investments were sometimes dispensed with.
shortage of skilled workers in the trades
In addition, 83 percent of the companies surveyed had difficulties finding workers and trainees. "The shortage of skilled workers in the trade is fatal," said Hantzsch. One million companies with almost 5.6 million self-employed and employees as well as 360,000 apprentices belong to the German skilled trades. According to the Central Association of German Crafts, there is already a shortage of 250,000 craftsmen and 19,000 apprenticeships remain vacant.
On Friday, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) is expected to attend the "top-level discussion of the German economy" with the major business associations BDI, BDA, DIHK and ZDH at the trade fair.