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CRAFT – trainees and qualified professionals for Thuringia’s skilled crafts sector from Vietnam, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Kazakhstan

Inspiring and attracting young people to the skilled crafts has become one of the great challenges of our time. In the light of demographic developments and the wave of academisation, the potential in and around Thuringia with regard to suitable trainees, in particular, will be unable to meet the demand for (young) skilled workers.

Consequently, more and more companies are dependent on unlocking new employee potential. This includes the needs-based recruitment of people from abroad who are interested in being trained and employed in Germany.

What is CRAFT?

By launching the new CRAFT project, Erfurt Chamber of Crafts and Trades (HWK) has created a tool to help interested member companies from Thuringia find apprentices and skilled workers from abroad in more than 130 different professions (which vary widely in the skilled crafts sector, ranging from bakeries/butchers to electronics/mechatronics, wood construction, dental technology, optics and acoustics, hairdressing, cosmetics and photography).

Who is CRAFT aimed at?

The project prioritises the countries of Vietnam, Georgia, Moldova and Kazakhstan. The focus is on targeted – and therefore needs-based – migration, which primarily addresses training migration in the first phase of the project. Later on in the project, our offer will also be directed at pre-trained specialists wishing to migrate to Germany within the recognition procedure. We [HWK Erfurt, editor’s note] have already started asking our member companies about their needs in this context.

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What is the process and which stakeholders are involved?

Transparent processes and reputable partners in the countries of origin help facilitate legal and fair migration. The Free State of Thuringia has set quality criteria for this purpose. The use of native speakers also helps to ensure that the requirements of the project are met. Project staff members play a key role in career counselling and guidance even at the recruitment stage, and later on, during the first few weeks and months of the migrant youths’ transition to their new living environment, they act as important reference persons. Moreover, the HWK continuously supports the apprentices until the end of their training, addressing any concerns, needs and problems they may have, as well as those of the member companies, enhancing the integration process. 
Participants are recruited in the countries of origin in cooperation with institutions such as vocational, language and grammar schools, as well as universities, and in consultation with ministries and German diplomatic missions abroad. Political foundations (such as the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung) also support the project by establishing local cooperation structures, among other things. 

What length of time is required for participants to arrive in Germany?

Depending on the applicant’s language level, it will usually take around eight months from registration to arrival in Germany. This amount of time is necessary to ensure effective linguistic and intercultural preparation and visa processing. In the case of skilled workers, this process is extended by the preceding recognition procedure, which takes around three to six months. Our member companies are also advised on this and plan for the appropriate waiting time when signing the contract.


The project, funded by the Free State of Thuringia with resources from the European Social Fund Plus, is aimed at applicants from the above-mentioned target countries who are between the ages of 18 and 27 and have at least B1 level language skills.

We would like to thank Ms Zentgraf and Ms Nguyen for their article.

Please refer to www.hwk-erfurt.de/craft for an overview of the project, together with contact details and events related to the CRAFT project.


Correct as of: 17/07/2023

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