German Word of the Day: der Handwerker

If you are new to Germany, you might wonder why repairs take that long. I’m German, but sometimes I wonder about it, too.

Let’s draw the shades on this repair job soon.

On 19 September, our window shutter belt (Rollogurt) tore apart after 18 years of use. I called a couple of companies, and one of them offered an appointment (just to assess the damage) three weeks down the road. The next one offered to come the following Monday. Hurray, I thought.

When the repairman came, he told me this outer roller shutter (Außenrollo) is much harder to repair. Since the Rollo could not be pulled up more than 4 inches/10 cm, there would be no way to reach the outer box without breaking the roller shutter (Rolladenpanzer) . In addition, being on the fourth floor of the building, this would also require a second repair man for security reason.

In my mind, I saw the charges adding up. Finally, these roller shutters need to be ordered from another company, as they do not keep them in stock.

I got my estimate on 24 September of € 687,82 with a note that additional charges (unforeseen at this point) might incur. I placed the job order.

On 17 October, I made a friendly inquiry to the Rollo company to see how far down the line we were on the waiting list. My friendly inquiry got a defensive reply, ‘I told you we would call you as soon as the part(s) have come in.’

It has been five weeks today. We are still without a Rollo, and I suppose the part hasn’t even arrived yet. It takes a lot of patience to be at the mercy of getting jobs done by repairmen (Handwerker) in Germany.

I’m sure some neighbors might find it odd, and speculate what’s going on behind these blinds. Not much, I can tell you. We are also in the dark about it. 🙂 Anyway, at this rate, I hope to get this done by Christmas.

How Many Vocational Jobs are there in Germany?

Germany is renowned for its Handwerk. The good side being how Germany’s vocational training gives people a livelihood, trainees become experts and learning a good trade pays your bills without having a college degree.

The downside is the notorious lateness of Handwerker, and some jobs seem to take forever. Our bathroom had a burst pipe and it took eight weeks before we could take a shower at home again.

On the other hand, our last Handwerker, who came to fix our dryer, came equipped with an iPad, took photos of his work and I signed his work report on it, too. Wow! He was my first iPad Handwerker. Times are changing.

Speaking of times changing – in 1971, Germany had 606 Ausbildungsberufe (vocational professions) with the number  dwindling down to 344 by 2007.

Politicians and Researchers ask for this number to be reduced even more. Having so many vocational professions, in today’s times, is costing the country a lot of money.

While going through the job training, trainees also have to attend the Berufsschule once a week. With professions getting more and more diversified, the cost of schooling them is rising while classes are getting smaller. We, the tax payers, make all this affordable.

Additionally, only certified businesses with a Meisterbrief (master craftsman diploma) can hire trainees.

Until 1971, trainees were called Lehrling (apprentice), which was then changed to Auszubildende(r), today’s politically correct term.

Back in my days and occasionally today, trainees complain about the little money they are earning. In Germany, the land of free education and vocation, many benefits are taken for granted.

One German dental trainee I had talked to was complaining about her low income while in training. I then informed her that in order to become a dental assistant, e.g. in the U.S.A. , she’d have to attend a dental college for six months and pay more than $ 20.000,- in tuition. This put things in perspective for her.

For a complete list of available vocational jobs, see Wikipedia.

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