German Confederation of Skilled Crafts (ZDH)
The German Confederation of Skilled Crafts has as a main purpose to reach a consensus on all major issues in crafts policy. It represents the overall interests of the skilled crafts sector vis-à-vis the Bundestag, the Federal Government and other central authorities, the European Union and international organisations. ZDH is also a member of UEAPME (European Union of Crafts and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) and has a liaison office to the European Union in Brussels. The ZDH liaison office represents the interests of the German skilled crafts sector at European level, maintains relationships with partner organizations in the EU and develops European projects for German skilled crafts organizations.
The skilled crafts organisation is divided into two pillars: the chambers of skilled crafts and the national confederations of skilled crafts:
Chambers of skilled crafts are non-profit corporations under public law with compulsory membership for each skilled craft enterprise. The chambers offer a wide spectrum of services ranging from advice on technical, financial and legal matters to consultancy on vocational training. They keep the crafts register and are responsible for holding examinations. As self-governing business entities they also represent the interests of the crafts sector in their chamber district vis-à-vis the political institutions and the public administration. This task is taken over at federal state level by a state’s working group of chambers or the state skilled crafts sector representatives. The 54 chambers of skilled crafts are confederated at national level in the German Confederation of Chambers of Skilled Crafts (DHKT).
The national confederations of skilled crafts are organizations with a voluntary membership. They represent the specific specialist interests of a trade or groups of trades. They also fulfill the function of employers’ organizations, e.g. they negotiate wage rates.
The ‘bottom-up’ structure of the skilled crafts sector is as follows: self-employed craftsmen can form a ‘guild’ at local level. Membership is voluntary. Various guilds combine to form ‘Local Councils of Skilled Crafts’. Regional confederations exist at federal state level. The 38 confederations of guilds nationwide and eight other professional associations acting as cooperation partners together form the German Association of Skilled Crafts Confederations (UDH).
DHKT and UDH are confederated in the ZDH (German Confederation of Skilled Crafts). ZDH has its headquarters in Berlin.