The Yusuf case shows the whole madness of skilled workers in Germany

Heating professional fights for employees: The Yusuf case shows the whole madness of skilled workers in Germany

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Germany needs skilled workers, Germany wants skilled workers and Germany could have them if only the bureaucracy were a little easier. This is shown by the case of a heating engineer from Großheubach. The employer told FOCUS online how he had to fight for an employee for 18 months.

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A good two years ago, Peter Hugo was looking for a new employee – and found him in Morocco. “We ran ads in our print media and there was nothing. Then I tried it on Facebook, and nothing happened here either,” says the qualified engineer for regenerative energy technologies in an interview with FOCUS online.

Finally, through an acquaintance, an applicant from Morocco got in touch. In retrospect, according to Hugo, a real stroke of luck. But what Hugo ultimately had to do to bring the fitter to Germany is hard to believe. The odyssey of the heating engineer is an example of how strongly the system slows down the immigration of skilled workers, which politicians regularly demand.

“The authorities have blocked us at the back and front”

“In the run-up to Christmas 2021, Yusuf got in touch and said he would like to come to Germany and work. Then I thought, well, anyone can apply, and then he sent me his documents – in French,” says Hugo. However, an acquaintance with knowledge of French assured that Yusuf actually masters the craft. And so fate took its course.

Hugo then tried to get support from various offices so that Yusuf could go to Germany. “They blocked us back and forth, as it eventually went.” About “5000 corners” an office worker of the heating contractor received the information that there was a recognition office at the Rhein-Main Chamber of Crafts.

“Then we reported there and then a real ping-pong game started. We submitted Yusuf’s certificates and certificates there, they were in French, so we had them translated. Then they wanted to know how many hours Yusuf had at the vocational school, and so on,” says Hugo. At this point, nine months had passed since Yusuf’s application.

It was to get even worse: “In late summer 2021, they finally came up with the glorious idea of ​​having the entire training regulation sent to them from Morocco. Almost 500 pages. We then had that translated as well.” All the same, the recognition office agreed subject to conditions.

The second chamber of crafts wanted to have the training regulation translated again

But the passage through the authorities should continue. “We were then referred to the Immigration Office of the City of Frankfurt.” They then asked where the company was actually located. “But we don’t have anything like that, we’re on the construction site every day. And our office employee works from the home office. They couldn’t believe that there is a home office in a craft business.”

Because the camp is in Großheubach in Lower Franconia, it was said that Hugo should contact the immigration authorities in Miltenberg with his concerns. “There, an employee literally said to us: ‘Oh God, I can’t do that, we’re so busy, we can’t even process this application’.”

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Hugo finally found help from the regional council in Ansbach, which in turn mediated this to the Chamber of Crafts in Lower Franconia. “Then the whole game started all over again. Because the chamber there also wanted a German version of the training regulation in Morocco. We had just had the 500 pages translated for the Chamber in Frankfurt. But no, it should be translated again.” Hugo doesn’t know why the Chamber of Crafts insisted on this: “They weren’t interested in what we had already submitted in Frankfurt.”

Here Hugo was also at the end of his patience. “I said, you can forget that.” Fortunately, the regional council got involved again, says Hugo. As a result, Yusuf got a residence permit after a good 1.5 years. “Now Yusuf has been employed by us as a heating engineer for almost a week and a half.”

Hugo couldn’t be happier. “Yusuf can speak German, does his own construction work, I don’t have to take care of him. Only the recognition of his driving license remains as the last hurdle.”

“My motivation after this martyrdom is very clear”

However, the heating engineer is less satisfied with politics. “During this drama I wrote to all the big heads – the members of the Bundestag in the constituency. But the way things are, it’s always the other person’s fault. The Greens blame the Blacks, they blame the Reds, and they then blame the Yellows.” Letters to ministers have also gone unanswered to this day.

The master heating engineer is currently trying to find another applicant from abroad – from Armenia. “I even know him personally. He was here once as a refugee, but was then not recognized.” According to Hugo, the man has mastered the craft. The German embassy recently rejected a second request from the man.

“In Armenia he’s practically sitting on packed suitcases because he’s afraid that there will soon be a bang. If I could get him, I would know that I would immediately have someone who could really support me.” Hugo is also continuing to look abroad for an apprenticeship. Only: “My motivation after this martyrdom is, let’s put it that way, very manageable.”

“Heating engineer is simply an absolute shortage profession”

But why can’t the heating engineer find any applicants in this country? “Heating engineer is simply an absolute shortage profession. There is one applicant for every ten positions. And if an apprentice can walk halfway today, he can just as easily go into industry and retail,” says Hugo. The trades have forgotten to establish themselves better here – and according to the craftsman cannot pay a comparable amount.

The craft of the heating engineer is no longer a backbreaking job – at least in Hugo’s company. “Every employee has a company car, only has cordless devices, the office staff can work from home, I also offer the four-day week – none of that is an issue. And we outsourced all the tedious hauling.”

In concrete terms, this means that subcontractors supply the construction site and do simpler work in advance. “When one of my boys arrives at the construction site, there is no longer a need to knock a hole in the wall. They only have to concentrate on the installation. We really reduced it to the essentials,” says Hugo.

Heating professional criticizes the “180 degree turnaround” in politics

But if there are simply no people at the market, “I can stand on my head and wiggle my feet,” complains Hugo. It’s not even about expanding in the current heat pump boom.

“I have to secure the business first,” says Hugo, who is the second generation to run the 52-year-old business and employs six people. “It’s not enough that I hire someone. For example, he must know how the much-loved heat pump works. You can’t just put them there – the heat pump works very differently than oil, gas or pellet heating. The employee has to be trained first.”

Hugo is critical of the “180-degree turnaround” in heating construction anyway. “Politicians have to take off their rose-colored glasses here. A heat pump cannot be installed everywhere. That simply does not work.”

The master heating engineer gives an example: “A customer with a twelve-family house is facing thermal renovation. He wants to switch to a heat pump, and small change isn’t a problem. But for the heat pump to really be worthwhile, he would have to spend a sum in excess of 300,000 euros – and that’s just a house number.”

App users can access the heating finder for heat pumps here

In other cities, on the other hand, the buildings are so narrow or the houses are listed that heat pumps make no sense. What’s more: “There are hardly any climate-friendly refrigerants for heat pumps. A legal ban is being prepared against the rest. How is it supposed to work, pounding heat pumps out of the ground everywhere and later banning the necessary refrigerant?”

Hugo wonders why Germany isn’t taking its neighbors as an example: “There is local heating in many towns, with a small central heating plant. What’s wrong with that? Why isn’t that a solution when heat pumps make sense in maybe 30 to 40 percent of existing properties, but not in the rest?”

“We need a central body that can approve suitable candidates”

Hugo also has news for politicians when it comes to the shortage of skilled workers. “Our society will age if we don’t get immigration. That’s just fact. It’s not just about the craft. Without skilled workers from abroad, nothing would work in the health sector for a long time.”

Only: In the health sector, immigration is much easier than in the crafts. “There’s a lot more that could be done. So that there won’t be another ping-pong game like mine, between the chamber of crafts, the regional council, and the foreigners’ registration office. You need a central office that can simply approve a candidate like Yusuf. To have 500 pages of training regulations translated instead is simply idiotic. So there is still a lot of room for improvement – ​​at least for skilled people,” says Hugo.

After all: Hugo’s own successor is certain. “My son is now in the tenth grade of secondary school. Next year he will be an apprentice with us – as one of the few in his class who still work in the trades.”

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