When Brigitte Schlichting opens the valve of the water heater, she drops a business card: "The gas floor" is written on it in red, "Maintenance and cleaning of your heater by a specialist". The card comes from a specialist in - Schlichting even left it here when she was in the bathroom in Berlin-Schöneberg last year. The customer had called her in panic because neither heating nor hot water worked - and in the middle of December.Schlichting is glad that the woman has reported in time for the maintenance of their gas boiler this time. "It would be best if the Kundenschon called me in September and not in December, when it is already cold."

As a rule, customers have to wait three weeks until Schlichting has time for them. From nine o'clock in the morning she drives through Berlin every day, usually she has three appointments, her calendar is full. Only in absolute emergencies does she manage to stop by spontaneously. In Berlin craftsmen are missing - and the few who are there are busy, as Schlichting.

"Being in the office would not be for me." Brigitte Schlichting, heating plumber

Although the order situation is good, the work seems to have become unpopular with the hands. Especially affected are the metal and civil engineering as well as the sanitary-climate-heating-area. There are many vacancies. In addition, about 17,400 apprenticeship positions were vacant last year. Also, because only a few women want to work in these professions: Only about 20 percent of all trainees are prospective craftsmen.In some areas such as construction or in the sanitary-climate-heating sector, in which also works Schlichting, you will find very few women. And even fewer women do their master. Out of 1,607 graduates in the master craftsman and heating engineer exam in 2018, only 20 were female.

Why does the craft have such a massive offspring problem? Why are the jobs just so popular with women? And why did women like Brigitte Schlichting still opt for the craft?

After school, Schlichting was not sure what to do. "Being in the office would not be all right," she says. It was obvious to get an education. "It was also important to me to choose a profession in which I can earn well later," she says.

"You hear something there, you see something, that's great," says Brigitte Schlichting. © Lena Fiedler

Alone among boys was difficult

When she started her education in 1986, she was one of three girls in the class. Because she had an avatar, she could skip a year of training. From then on, he was just under boys. Then it was not so funny, says Schlichting. The boys in the class could not handle it well. In the breaks, she sat in the trellis to whistle when Schlichting passed by. "I was relieved when the school was over."

The apprenticeship was too little. She got 400 DM a month. "It was not enough for life," she comments. If a friend had not lent her money without obligation and quickly, it would not have worked.

After completing the apprenticeship, tradespeople earn mostly tidy, but only a few get rich. The Guild Sanitary-Heating-Climate Berlin recommends for a customer service technician with experience an hourly wage of 14.37 euros (and thus a monthly salary of about 2.500 euros gross), but stresses that this Value is not universally valid because the companies themselves decide on their prices and the wages of the employees.