The Skilled Crafts in Germany

The Skilled Crafts Sector

With its one million mainly small and medium-sized companies and 5.5 million employees, Skilled Crafts are at the heart of the Germans economy.

The Trade and Crafts Code

Membership of a skilled craft in Germany is not regulated via the company size or turnover. Instead, German legislation lays down in the the Trade and Crafts Code (the ‘Handwerksordnung’), which trades belong to the sector.


Germany has a so-called “dual” apprenticeship system, with apprentices learning both in the company they work for and at a VET.

The Skilled Crafts Organisation and the ZDH

Being responsible for the whole of the German skilled crafts sector, the skilled crafts organisation is divided into two pillars: the chambers of skilled crafts and the national confederations of skilled crafts.

Political Principles

The ZDH is committed to the social market economy and to an SME policysupporting the competition on a high level.

Foreign-Trade Activities and International Partnerships

Skilled crafts enterprises identify and use their export opportunities. Around 50.000 companies sell their products and services abroad.

European Elections 2019

The German skilled crafts organisation formulates its provisional expectations to the 9th European Parliament, which is going to be elected on May 26th 2019.


The ZDH is active in a wide range of topics. On our english page we present a selection.

Position Papers

Representation to the EU

The ZDH's European Policy Department with the Representatives for Regional Skilled Craft Organizations and sectoral policy in Brussels.



Searching for technical data

The Competence Centre for Digital Crafts is helping small and medium sized enterprises on their technological path by unlocking the potential resulting from the digital transformation. Read more.

Better Regulation

ZDH has set itself the goal of achieving further improvements in European legislation and identifying areas in which unnecessary bureaucracy should be reduced. Read more.

German Confederation of Skilled Crafts (ZDH) Representation to the EU

Tim Krögel
Managing Director European Affairs
Tel: +32 2 23080-39

Our team in Brussels

The skilled crafts in Germany

ZDH Das Handwerk EN