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German builders heading to the UK

German builders are heading to the UK to find work as the German construction industry is suffering. It is a reversal of the British building trade in the 1980's and 1990's, when many Britons did manual labour jobs on German building sites in the those two decades

A construction industry boom in England and the forthcoming bulding projects for the 2012 Olympic Games to be held in London, are enticing the German builders away from their own labour market.

There are projections of 30,000 homes to be built each year over the next 20 years in the UK, and German builders, who are acknowledged to be among the best in the world, are taking advantage of the opportunity.

"German craftsmen have a very sound level of training. We have the Meistertitel, or Master certificate and then there are German qualities, such as punctuality, reliability, and exactness, and the Brits know that we can be counted on," said Bettina Hansmeier, a spokesperson for a lobby representing craftsmen in the industrial state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Last September, the German Master Craftsmen group pulled together a band of 10 trade associations to facilitate entry into the British construction market and promote German attributes, such as the quality of workmanship.

Now that the World Cup tournament renovations have been completed, the German construction trade is in crisis with many top firms facing insolvency. Companies are now looking to the UK to find work, the German Master Craftsmen are setting up an exhibition at the trade fair Interbuild in Birmingham to promote German builders.

Anreas Thielem, director of E & E Fertigteile GmbH, says the trade fair will show German builders how to attack the market, how do I get a contract etc. The joint exhibit should prove very helpful. It will also explain hurdles such as customs, taxes, registration, and even cultural barriers.

"There's a different kind of honour code there. The spoken word is taken much more seriously in England. We Germans tend to be overly legal with everything spelled out in written contracts. Over there in the UK a handshake and word of honour will do," says Thiele.

Presentations, flyers in both English and German, as well as an internet page will be set up including tips and advice on what the British and Germans can expect. English courses geared specifically towards the contruction industry will also be set-up.