Members’ Corner – Great perspectives for the German electrical trade

Despite a lot of obstacles – Corona, delivery shortages and the war in Ukraine – the German electrical trade has grown in 2021 in terms of the number of employees, apprentices and turnover. The business climate index has stabilised on a high level due to the growing demands of energy transition.

Since the inauguration of the new German government climate aims have been sharpened several times not least as a consequence of the war in Ukraine. The electrical trade benefits from these ambitious aims as in consequence for example the demand for heat pumps and photovoltaics is increasing dramatically. With the ongoing energy transition and digitalization, not only tasks but also the importance of the electrical trade is growing. Electricians and IT experts are more and more working as climate protectors, and progress facilitators.

Knowing about the positive perspectives the electrical trade is, despite the war, delivery shortages and prize increases for material, looking forward with optimism. At least this is what the ZVEH spring survey shows. Most of the participants have a lots of demand and orders for several weeks or even months. A great part of them has also been able to increase their turnover during the last twelve months. No wonder that 96 percent of the survey participants describe the situation of their business as good or at least satisfactory. The Business climate index reflects this optimism concerning future and has therefore been stable and on a high level during the whole epidemy (83.9 points).

The turnover for 2021 increased to 72.2 million Euro – a rise of 5.6 percent. Turnover per employee increased as well to 139,332 Euro. The greatest turnover development can be seen in the electrotechnical sector, followed by IT, whereas turnover in the machine and drive engineering sector was regressing. An enjoyable increase was also registered concerning the number of employees. In 2021 this number increased by 0.5 percent to 518,176 while the number of electrical enterprises dropped slightly to 49,592 (-0.7%). This shows that the trend, where the size of the enterprises grows while their overall number is dropping, continues.

Even better than the rise in the number of employees and turnover is the rise in the number of apprentices. While in 2020 corona caused a decline in the number of new apprentices – conventional opportunities such as internships and apprentice/job fairs which facilitate the contact from job seekers/school leavers to electrotechnical enterprises were hindered – in 2021 the number of new youngsters increased explicitly.

In 2021 15,122 young people started their apprenticeship. Together with the ones passing their second and third year, the electrical trade counts 45,808 apprentices. The greatest part of the apprentices is allotted to the Elektroniker/-innen Energie- und Gebäudetechnik (Electrician for energy and building installations/systems) as the favoured job within the five electrotechnical jobs. The new apprenticeship “Elektroniker/-in für Gebäudesystemintegration” (Electrician for building systems integration) which ZVEH launched in 2021 hat also started successfully and will register more and more applications during the next years because of its relevance for energy transition. Interesting: nearly 38 percent of the ones who chose to become a GSI possess necessary qualification to attend university which is exactly the target audience ZVEH wanted.

The only drop of bitterness within all the good news is, that the skills shortage is increasing. For the electrical trade this will become one of the great challenges during the next years because the number of tasks due to the energy transition is rapidly growing while there are not enough people to get the jobs done (photovoltaic, heat pumps, energy management, broadband/digitalization etc.).

Together with demographic development and the trend that high school graduates in Germany prefer academic education, there will be problems to reach the ambitious climate protection goals such as the use of 80 percent of renewable energies. ZVEH has therefore turned to the German government to support the electrical trade and is calling for measures such as the harmonization of academic and vocational education as well as more investments in vocational training. At the end of April ZVEH has, together with the great trade union “IG Metall” and other associations defined a couple of requirements/demands and articulated them in public. In addition, the demands were communicated to several high-level representatives of the governing parties.