Handwerk: Crafts and Trades in Germany

  • Thora Fjeldsted


Practised and passed on within a coherent legal and practical framework, the crafts, or Handwerk, are a notable educational and economic force in Germany. Here the understanding of crafts is skill-based, wide-ranging and utilitarian, and they include such varied crafts professions as butchers, bakers, plumbers and hairdressers. German crafts are organized in a clearly defined “Crafts and Trades system” the core principle of which is quality in the making and maintenance of things. Quality is conceived to reside in human skills and is certified in the Master-of-craft designation. In order to pass on the skills to sustain quality, Handwerk collaborates with the German state and industry to maintain apprenticeships within the extensive vocational education system and actively develops lifelong education. In 2016, the turnover of the sector was 561 billion euros before VAT (7.7% of national gross value), and around one million crafts companies were active and listed in the national crafts register (28.8% of active German enterprises). Around 5.45 million people were employed in the sector and 363 thousand apprentices enrolled in the vocational education and training (VET) system of the crafts, representing 12.5% of the workforce and 27.4% of those in higher education.


Handwerk German crafts Meister 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thora Fjeldsted
    • 1
  1. 1.Erasmus UniversityRotterdamThe Netherlands

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