The skilled trades simply have a lot to offer

Interview with gold-medal winners Alexander Bruns and Janis Gentner

The members of the German national con­struction team are star performers. Carpenter Alexander Bruns and tiler Janis Gentner each won a Gold medal in the WorldSkills championships held in August 2019 in the Russian city of Kazan. We talked to these two young craftsmen about their trades, success and the future.

© WorldSkillsGermany / Anja Jungnickel
Carpenter Alexander Bruns celebrates his win

The interview

Best tiler in the world, best carpenter in the world. How does that feel?

Bruns: It’s an amazing feeling, even today. Just indescribable. I am very proud of what I have achieved. All the training and all the effort was worth it.

Gentner: It’s a truly wonderful feeling, also because it shines a spotlight on the skilled trades. For me it is a great honor. I also notice that, as a skilled tradesperson, I am now regarded in quite a different way.

Has your life—private or professional—been altered in any way by winning the world championships?

Bruns: Altered is perhaps a little exaggerated. But straight after WorldSkills my diary was very full. There were many events that I was asked to attend and talk about my experience at WorldSkills. And I got a lot of recognition from many quarters.

Gentner: The title of World Champion of course attracts a lot of interest. It brings with it a lot of interviews and events, all alongside my actual work. You get lots of impressions of other areas of the building sector and that has been really cool.

© FFN / Küttner
Tiler Janis Gentner at work

Mr. Gentner: For tilers, this year they reintroduced the requirement for a master’s qualification for those setting up their own tiling business. What do you think about this?

Gentner: I think it’s right that this requirement has been re-introduced for the tiling business. It is a skilled job and it needs a good training system with clear standards.

Good tradespeople are hard to get these days. Firstly because order books currently are nice and full, and secondly because there are fewer young people coming into the trade. More and more school-leavers are opting to study in higher education. What would you say speaks for training in the construction trades?

Bruns: The skilled trades are very modern. Old prejudices are long gone. The working day is never boring. Every day you face new challenges. The skilled trades simply have a lot to offer. On the one hand in many areas traditions are maintained and old ways of working are being passed on; at the same time these days we can plan entire buildings right down to the last detail using ultra-modern machinery. This mix makes the skilled trades so unique.

Gentner: We still have the problem that society tends to focus on study for young people looking for career options. There isn’t an appreciation of how high quality and professional work in the skilled trades is. And in the end, academics, too, need houses to live in.

You have each achieved a lot at an early age. What are your aims now, for the medium and long term?

Bruns: I am currently at the master school in Kaiserslautern. I’m doing my master’s quali­fication there and will be finished in summer 2020. Then I want to work as a master carpenter in my own business and gain experience. After that, I’ll have to see.

Gentner: First I want to complete my training at the master school and get my master’s qualification. Later I can imagine becoming self-employed and running my own company.

WorldSkills 2019

1,354 participants from over 63 nations and regions competed for medals in these world championships in Kazan between August 22 and 27, 2019, in 56 different categories.

Precision and skill, as well as strong nerves and concentration were decisive in securing a gold, silver or bronze medal. Around 250,000 visitors came along on the four days of the contest to watch the young craftsmen and -women at work.

From Germany there were 39 participants, demonstrating their skills in 34 different construction trades. Among that number were also the six members in five disciplines from the German national construction team.

Published on April 20, 2020