Rainer Reichhold: Craft industries in the region of Stuttgart – Indispensable

“We solve problems”
Being at the heart of Baden-Würt­tem­berg, the Stuttgart region is an economic area and a place to live that provides a unique network. People from 170 nations contribute to the region’s spirit of research, innovative power, cul­­­­tural flair, zest for life and future orientation. High-tech manufacturers, big in­­dustry, but most of all the high-performing mid-sized companies, in­­clu­­ding the craft sector, make the economic area a notable problem solver.
It is not only due to the global players based here, that the Stuttgart region has been one of the most important and successful economic areas in Europe for many decades. The innovative and quality-oriented mid-sized companies – among them about 30,000 craft businesses – have a decisive share in this result. The region’s great economic power is also visible in its market potential: The Stuttgart region is one of Germany’s top regions with a purchasing power of more than 20,000 euros per capita. More highly qualified employees than average work here. This strengthens and explains the extraordinary competitiveness of the location, as innovative and intelligent offers for vocational and further training are a matter of fact here.

 


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Companies with high productivity
During the European Conference on Craft and Small Enterprises, which took place in Stuttgart in April 2007, even the politicians realized the significant importance of the craft sector when it comes to Europe’s competitiveness. The high politicians summarized: “In the 21st century craft industries and mid-sized companies will continue to be the special hallmark and the key factor indeed for the European economy.” This is under the condition that the craft sector is able to cope with the structural change that has accelerated due to globalization and technological chan­­ges. To do so, we need a general economic framework that enables the companies to build on their strengths and potentials. After all: The local craft industries have no reason to fear a fair competition in quality. They are modern, flexible and highly productive.

Since the craft industries like to handle their businesses themselves, the craft association is actively involved in the further development of the industry. Being involved means taking part in the decisions. Taking part in the decisions means taking part in shaping the frameworks.

In this process the Hand­­­­werks­­kam­­mer Region Stuttgart is the voice of the craft sector – supported by numerous volunteers in the local council of skilled crafts with its guilds and many other organizations.

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Their joint objective: to ensure an economically ideal future for all member businesses. They will succeed if they con­­centrate their interests. Especially in those fields in which the craft sector needs a good lobby – in dealing with po­­liticians, in public and in the media. The Hand­­­­werks­­kam­­mer be­­comes active where the shoe pinches – less government, de­­crease of social contributions and taxes, debure­­au­­cratization and more flexibility on the job market. In addition, the Hand­­­­werks­­kam­­mer carries out public services: in the field of job licensing as well as in examination regulations, in vocational training or in fighting moonlighting. The craft industries organize their own business best themselves. Much more efficiently than the government could.

But Hand­­­­werks­­kam­­mer also means many services from one source. Ser­vices pro­­fessionally supporting the en­­terprises in all economic issues. Competent advice, reliable information and systematic qual­­ified training in all subjects regarding office, workshop, construction site. The chamber’s team of consultants knows its trade.

Craft stands for qualified training
The craft industries often are the driving force in the group of mid-sized companies, they are powerful, innovative, varied and manifold. The in­­­dustrial sector “crafts” employs almost 200,000 people in the greater Stuttgart region. Very many of them contribute to the vocational training of young people. The region also provides numerous op­­­por­tunities for the fu­rther steps on the job ladder in the craft sector. Every year the master schools, for example, prepare hundreds of young craftsmen for their master craftsman’s examination. Some of the participants even come from far off places.

The Bildungsakademie (professional train­­ing academy) of the Hand­­­­werks­­kam­­mer Region Stuttgart trains apprentices, journeymen and master craftsmen – those who are interested can even com­­plete their studies with the degree “Be­­triebs­­wirt des Handwerks” (“business economist in the craft sector”) at this academy.


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“New” markets
In addition to craftsmanship, custom­er orientation and services come first in daily work life. The entrepreneurs consider the always new challenges as an opportunity. Many entrepreneurs for example, are professionally prepared for the increasing demand in energy consulting and refurbishment. No matter if the demand comes from private people, public administra­tion or industrial en­­terprises. Every­­body has to save energy. The refurbishment to increase a building’s energy efficiency has been subsidized for several years. Now, owners of buildings and apartments are pitched more than ever to carbon dioxide re­­duc­­ing measures. This is also meant to in­­crease growth and employment. Craft business­­es can benefit from these meas­­ures as they are na­­tural born environmental and thus climate protectionists due to their expertise.

The ageing society with its need for spe­­cial products and services, too, is a very interesting market for the craft industries. The companies specialized in the “market for senior citizens” are able to im­­ple­­ment two vital points for securing and increasing the quality of life: designing the apartment and maintaining health.

reichh8gThe master electrician and business econ­­omist in the craft sector was born in 1958 and is managing director of the company Elektro Nürk in Nür­­tin­­gen-Zi­­zis­­hausen. After several years of voluntary com­­mit­­ment on state and national level, among others in the professional association in the fields of electronics and information technology, Mr Reichhold was elect­­ed president of the Chamber of Craft In­­dus­­tries of the Greater Stuttgart Re­­gion.