Thomas Reiter is manager at a medium-sized company. The company is recognized for its youth work. He says: Parents are doing something wrong if they primarily send their child to study. Germany is training past the market.

Gebro Herwig is a medium-sized building technology company from the Sauerland. 127 employees, 27 of them trainees. Thomas Reiter is the operations manager and takes care of human resources work. The company has been recognized for its work with young people. Reiter does not allow himself to be deterred at work, but his analysis is merciless: Germany is training outside the market.

Mr. Reiter, you won the training prize of the South Westphalia Chamber of Crafts. Do you have problems recruiting young people for your company?

Not at all.

How does it work? Industry and trade always complain that they can’t find any young talent.

I go to schools, to parents’ evenings. The concept is difficult, but it works. We have to crack the parents. That’s the most important.

How come?

Parents always want the best for their child. And they think it’s a study. I then say: No, only an apprenticeship is the right way. And we offer great jobs. As plant mechanics for plumbing, heating and air conditioning, we are at the heart of what is happening when it comes to climate change. We work with water, heat, air. These are the most important elements of humanity.

I can also put it very simply: Imagine you go to the toilet and the water doesn’t come out. We deal with these products. And we do it at the highest level: no craftsman works for us without a tablet. We provide trainees with apps for calculation programs. Craftsman is the profession with a future.

If I had done what my father wanted, I would have succeeded him as an insurance broker. But I thought that was terrible. Always working with people’s fear of disaster. That would be nothing for me. That also bothers me about the discussion in the current energy crisis. Many jump on the bandwagon and make a bargain with the fears of others.

And heating engineers sell heat pumps like hot cakes. . .

Sure, but good heating engineers also say: Of course you can have a heat pump, but first take a look at your energy consumption. Do not constantly heat empty rooms and close the balcony door in winter or the transitional period when you are outside.

Back to training: If everyone is going to university, will Germany not be providing training on the job market?

Yes. I keep making it clear to parents and candidates: you can still study after the apprenticeship. When the time comes, many people no longer want it because they see what they can become in the trade.

Generation Z is notorious for being very self-centered. How do you see it?

Gen Z is generally difficult. They can deal with mobile phones and Playstations. That’s not wrong, but not good. They have to find out what they are really passionate about. I try to pick them up, offer them an internship, try it out for a week. Anyone who wants that is usually suitable because he or she shows initiative.

As a manager with a focus on human resources, do you have any tricks for distinguishing suitable from unsuitable applicants?

It’s about clever questioning. When I started to deal with the training, there were tests. After that and according to school reports, the selection was made. But that is not meaningful at all. Even a bad student can be a good craftsman. No, I ask, for example, whether someone drives a moped. If so, I ask how fast the thing is. Then if he blushes, we’ll take him.

Because then I know he tweaked the moped to make it faster. So he put his hand to a machine without having learned it. He taught himself. That’s a good premise.

Does salary matter?

This question is no longer on the market for our candidates. Most of them know that they earn more than 700 euros a month in the first year of training. I myself, prefer to ask the question, do you know where you go to vocational school? First of all, the salary is not that important.

Are you also specifically looking for migrants?

Yes. I am involved in the migration of foreigners. Migrants do not have the sense of entitlement that young Germans have. A German journeyman looks for future prospects directly after the apprenticeship, a migrant is satisfied at first and then maybe later looks for future prospects with professional experience.

How did you actually end up in HR?

I think I have a special gift for selecting employees. In the positive as in the negative. I say clearly what suits me and what doesn’t. I’ll be honest, I don’t put a cloak on it. My boss sometimes says to me: Oh Thomas, maybe you shouldn’t have done that so directly. But the Sauerland just speaks freely.

The article “Boss finds out who the best applicant is with a question” comes from WirtschaftsKurier.