Industrial master

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The industrial foreman , historically and in Austria also currently foreman , is a qualified industrial-technical manager . He is a technically competent production manager with personnel responsibility and at the same time acts as an intermediary between the management and his immediate employees. His areas of responsibility include coordinating smooth processes in production and ensuring product quality standards. In addition, his area of ​​responsibility includes occupational safety and accident prevention.

History of the craft and industrial master trade

The beginnings

Coat of arms of the former foreman school in Magdeburg (founded in 1891). - Also the professional emblem of the foremen

The position of foreman emerged in the course of industrialization from the function of the master in traditional handicrafts : the traditional master craftsman in his own workshop became the “foreman”, first in the manufacture , then in the industrial enterprise, the factory . He was the visible representative of the owner who worked with the other manual workers in the workshop . The master had more specialist knowledge and skills than the "normal" factory worker . He thus represented the link between the management and the workers on the lower hierarchical level. - The term "Werkmeister" itself was taken from the traditions of the medieval construction huts , which differed from the craft guilds in terms of structure and ownership " Factory " already knew.

The foreman was a respected figure of authority in the company who performed the following tasks in the 19th century:

  • professional personnel management,
  • disciplinary personnel management,
  • technical functions,
  • organizational functions.

The training of the foremen was usually carried out in-house according to requirements, occasionally organized by employers' associations, in the large companies expanding at the end of the 19th century also in their own factory schools, but also in courses in the technical college system (trade or university) that was emerging between apprenticeship training and universities. Trade schools etc.). As early as 1855, the first “foremen's school” was established in Chemnitz as a technical college based on technical training. Many similar institutions that were established later were based on their teaching program. There were other educational establishments explicitly named "Werkmeisterschule" in Dortmund, Duisburg, Elberfeld-Barmen (Wuppertal), Gleiwitz, Hanover, Cologne and Magdeburg. In Austria the state trade schools partially took on this task.

Class awareness and professional associations

The prominent position compared to the wage-dependent workers as employees with a fixed salary and as "masters of the workshop" led, despite the material dependency on the company owner shared with them, to a sense of class - shared with other salaried occupations - which not least derives from the traditions of the self-employed " honorable “master craftsman . As early as the 1880s they founded corporate interest groups that set themselves apart from the workers' unions - partly together with, partly in competition with the members of the technicians and engineers , who were developing specialist professions at the same time , of which the foremen are distinguished by their focus on company organization and of personnel management.

Badge of the German Werkmeister Association (around 1914)
  • In Germany, the German Werkmeister-Verband (DWV) was established in Düsseldorf in 1884, and in 1921 it co-founded the umbrella organization for the General Free Employees' Association (AfA-Bund). With around 130,000 members in 1929, it was the largest association in this professional segment. There was also the German Werkmeisterbund (DWB) , which joined the Christian-national general association of German employee unions and was only founded in 1919, with headquarters in Essen and around 18,000 members in 1930, as well as some much smaller sector-related associations such as the Werkmeister-Verband der Schuhindustrie, founded in 1907 . - After the National Socialists came to power in 1933, the work of all associations came to an end. The previously independently organized educational work of the foreman organizations was taken over by the National Socialist German Labor Front , which organized a “Reichsschule für Werkmeister” in Gelsenkirchen and exercised ideological influence with the course material for the “teaching groups for foremen” and the final course exams, but also with the internal training measures the industry got into competition.
  • In Austria in 1895 in the North Bohemian, then Austrian industrial town of Reichenberg, the General Austrian Association of Werkmeister was founded, the name of which was later extended to the General Austrian Association of Werkmeister and Industrial Officials [in the current sense: -employees ]. It had a second seat in Vienna. As early as 1911, it had 11,500 members. It was dissolved when Austria was annexed to the German Reich in 1938.
  • In Switzerland, the Schweizer Werkmeister-Verband (SWV) was established in 1893 , which was a founding member of the Association of Swiss Employees ' Associations in 1918 , renamed itself the Schweizer Kader Organization (SKO) in 1988 and still exists today.

In addition to their profession-related activities with training courses, lectures and the representation of economic and legal interests of their members, some of these associations also developed their own club life with badges and flags as attributes as well as cultural programs with civic-cultural aspirations. For example, within the DWB there was the Werkmeister Women's Association for the wives of the Werkmeister, for whom the association's own "Werkmeister-Zeitung" had included "Die Frau Meisterin" since 1903, and in Vienna there was a "Gesangverein der Werkmeister und Industriebeamten" .

Recent developments

When the Tayloristic manufacturing and organizational functions were introduced, the professional and self-image of the master experienced an enormous change in industry due to the division of work and functions and the associated specialization and centralization. Steering and controlling tasks of the production branch, professional, organizational and technical fields of activity, which the foreman had previously done, were relocated. This resulted in immense cuts in the authority, reputation and function of the master. The direct connection to the company management was also interrupted by newly introduced hierarchical levels. This is why this period is also referred to as the “first master crisis”. In this time was work masterfully de facto industry champion.

In the 1930s there were hundreds of different names across Germany for people with master craftsman tasks in industry, which were only combined under the term industrial master in 1947 . The designation was determined by the Arbeitsstelle für Betriebliche Berufsbildung (ABB) , an institution supported by the trade associations, through the publication of the first uniform concept for the training of masters in industry. With the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949, the master craftsman's profession developed further with the help of publicly regulated advanced training courses. This further development also existed in the GDR , but not in completely the same form (see below).

The beginning of the computer age changed the work and functional position of the industrial foreman. Well-trained skilled workers increasingly had the necessary special machine skills, which made the foreman dependent on them. The skilled workers wanted to be given a say because of their skills, which limited the decision-making power of the masters. In the 1990s, the Taylorist- Fordist way of working was replaced by new forms of work organization, such as group and team work . Many employees demanded a cooperative management style from the master due to a large number of their own skills and qualifications . This “second master crisis” came from “below”, because the subordinate, technically very well trained employees also received more decision-making and control rights. Due to the required cooperative management style, the master again lost authority over his employees.

Nowadays the master is seen in the industry as an intermediary between the academic and the working-class level, so very similar to the function at the beginning of the story. There are currently questions about the future of the industrial foreman, such as: "Does the engineer displace the foreman?" Or "Is the industrial foreman subject to a shortage of skilled workers ?"

Tasks of the masters in new industrial production groups

In simplified terms, two different directions of production organization can be outlined within the field of responsibility of the masters in modern industrial companies: First, group work concepts based on the model of partially autonomous work groups , and second, models based on the concept of Japanese production teams.

In semi-autonomous working groups

Essentially, depending on the design of the competencies of the semi-autonomous working group and the next higher hierarchical level, the following five tasks of the industrial foreman can be distinguished:

  • goal-oriented leadership and coordination of the working groups,
  • Stabilization of the framework conditions for group work,
  • continuous further development of the socio-technical system,
  • Collaboration in product innovations, technology and work organization,
  • Human Resources Management.

The focus of his tasks is thus shifting from the management of individuals to the goal-oriented coordination and management of the working group. As far as he can, he should react to changes in product planning with suitable adaptation measures and thus stabilize the work of the group. On the technical side, he also has to deal with the further development of work equipment and processes, work processes and working conditions. On the social side, the promotion of the individual qualifications of the employees and the team development can be seen as tasks of the industrial foreman. In addition to these continuous further developments, early cooperation in product innovations, technical and work-organizational innovations is required of the industrial foreman. Ultimately, the main function remains personnel management, which is his responsibility as the disciplinary superior.

In manufacturing teams

When organizing work in the form of production teams, the industrial foreman functions as the central control instance and, as a kind of "workshop manager", is largely responsible for the planning, control and optimization of his area. In order to fulfill these tasks, he has extensive skills in terms of personnel management, work preparation and production scheduling. He is responsible for the qualification and assessment of the employees, in coordination with the HR department also for recruitment, warnings or dismissals. In the context of work preparation and production process planning, the industrial foreman has significantly more tasks and competencies than in Tayloristically structured companies.

Industrial master in Germany

Examination certificate from a German Chamber of Industry and Commerce for an industrial master specializing in electrical engineering

The job description of the industrial foreman developed historically from the profession of the foreman and, in contrast to this in Germany with the training title of certified industrial foreman, is under legal protection. The examination bodies are the chambers of industry and commerce (IHK). More than 95 percent of the annual industrial foreman exams in Germany are taken by men.

Admission requirement for the industrial foreman examination is a successfully passed final examination in a recognized training occupation that can be assigned to the respective specialist area, and usually one or more years of professional experience or work experience of at least six years in a company that is assigned to the corresponding industrial foreman specialty (e.g. metal, chemistry, electrical engineering, pharmacy).

The industrial foreman exam is divided into two parts:

  • Cross-disciplinary part (basic qualification)
  • subject-specific part (action-specific qualification)

The examinations of the basic qualifications and action-specific qualifications are regulated nationwide. This takes place on standardized test days throughout Germany. The oral (supplementary) examinations are an exception.

The successful completion of the trainer aptitude test is also part of the advanced training . After passing the master’s examination, certified industrial foremen receive a certificate as proof of education and a master’s certificate from the examining Chamber of Commerce.

The chambers of industry and commerce examine the so-called technical specialist as a border test that combines both the contents of the industrial foreman and the basics of the specialist economists .

Forms of further training

The advanced training examination to become an industrial foreman before the regional chambers of industry and commerce is usually preceded by a preparatory course. The WIS database of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) provides an overview of the courses on offer. The advanced training takes place alongside work, modular or full-time. There are also offers for distance learning, preparation in self-study is also possible.

European qualifications framework

The master craftsman's certificate is recognized within the EU. This is regulated in the EU Directive on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications, in which the master craftsman's certificate was classified at level 6 of 8 in January 2012 as part of the creation of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF). This means that the master 's degree is on the same level as the Bachelor ( B.Eng. , B.Sc. ) and the state-certified technician . The VDI published a position paper on this matter , which shows that the master craftsman and state-certified technician degrees correspond to the same level of competence as the bachelor's degree, but are not similar .

As an interest organization for industrial foremen and company executives with approx. 3,500 members, five state associations and several regional associations, there is the Industrial Foremen Association Germany (IMV) with an office in Duisburg,

Continuing education based on the master

Certified industrial foremen can take part in the following advanced training courses:

With the successful examination, you also have the requirements for general university access to complete an academic course.

Excursus: The master in the industry of the GDR

History and status

In the German Democratic Republic , in addition to the traditional master craftsman in the industrial sector, there was also the master craftsman as a managerial occupation in work organization at the company level. In the development phase after the Second World War, these were traditionally recruited from the group of qualified skilled workers , as was previously the case with the foremen in the private sector. Your advancement to master craftsman took place in various ways alongside your job and often in-house according to your needs.

While the self-image of the master was initially still based on the historical habitus of the “best of his subject” (with regard to technical qualifications) and the “master of the workshop” (with regard to the management of the people who were responsible for them), the systematic development of socialism operated by the state party SED Since the beginning of the 1950s, the function has been adapted to the new state goals. As early as 1953, he was characterized in a “master craftsman's ordinance” as the “direct organizer of production and helper for those employed in his work area in the struggle to meet the economic plans” and as “the manager of the production section or work area assigned to him”: He becomes “master” to the "helper", corresponding to the ideologically ascribed role of the workers as the ruling class , from the technical expert to the organizer of a "production section". As the last management link in the chain of the planning and control hierarchy in the combines and state- owned companies , he was, in the eyes of his superiors, responsible for the labor productivity of his (former) colleagues (skilled) workers, mostly in so-called "brigades" as the smallest Working groups were organized in the production. His position was "uncomfortable" between the expectations of effectiveness from "above" and the close contact with his subordinates as direct service providers. The master's success in his assigned role was based on his skills as a motivator and “leader of people”.

Formal training

Certificate of qualification as a master for structural repairs from the GDR

Since 1973, further training to become a master craftsman has been standardized for the entire GDR (Journal of the GDR Part I / 1973, No. 33). The two-year training, for which the qualification as a skilled worker was an entrance requirement, consisted of three stages:

  • the interdisciplinary basic training with 750 hours that had to be completed in the first ten months. As a rule, it was located in the central vocational schools of the districts and familiarized the aspirants with the subjects of work sciences, business administration, philosophy and law, which were taught under socialist premises.
  • the specialist training for each of the 177 subject areas identified over time with at least 480 hours within five to six months, organized in centralized educational institutions for the entire GDR. Here, in the four subject-related subjects (1.) Technology, (2.) Machine, apparatus and device technology, (3.) Materials management and (4.) Test, measurement and control technology, “primarily the solution to the technical and organizational tasks of the master necessary knowledge and skills "are conveyed.
  • the specialization as a kind of " masterpiece " in the form of the so-called "master internship" under the guidance of a mentor with a duration of two months at the intended future location. The knowledge acquired in the first parts of the training should be practiced and applied here. At the end there was an oral assessment by the head of the work area and the mentor, which formally concluded the training for the master craftsman.

The traditional training of the master craftsman was partially integrated into this teaching scheme (see article master craftsman ).

There was no actual master craftsman's examination , rather the qualification was assessed cumulatively by means of presentations and partial examinations (evaluation regulations in master craftsman training; Journal of the GDR Part I / 1973, No. 55). The job title for the graduates was "Master for ..." with the following technical title (e.g. master for structural repairs, master for baked goods and pasta production, master for automotive electrics , etc.).

To distinguish it from the other masters' names and titles in Germany, after the German unification in 1990, the term master in state-owned companies or in state-owned industry (also as an abbreviation VE-Meister ) is used in the specialist literature as a collective name for this category of masters .

Equivalence with the certified industrial foreman

According to the unification agreement of August 31, 1990 between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, the educational and vocational qualifications acquired in both countries, including the master craftsman’s qualification, are “equal to each other and grant the same entitlements if they are equivalent” (Article 37 , Paragraph 1).

In contrast to the craft-related professions (see the article master craftsman ) in the industrial sector, due to reservations by the chambers of industry and commerce (IHK) and the trade unions due to the sometimes considerable differences in the training content due to the different social and economic systems, no central framework was determined enact an equivalence with the certified industrial foreman; it is reserved for the IHKs in individual proceedings. This does not affect the right to use the master's title in its original form and the assessment of the training by individual employers.

Foreman in Austria

Austrian foreman certificate from a mechanical engineer

The foreman is a qualified technical manager in industry and commerce in Austria. The Austrian foreman is essentially the same as the German certified industrial foreman; In contrast to Germany, however, the job title of foreman is linked to attending a foreman school and passing the final examination and is protected by law.

Successful completion of the foreman’s school, certified by a foreman’s certificate, fulfills the entry requirement ( university entrance qualification test ) for the college of education in the field of vocational school education . Employed foremen in industry and the public service are on an equal footing with technicians with a technical college degree in their application group.

The Association of Company Managers (VbF), based in Vienna, sees itself as an “non-political community of interests” of the middle management level in companies to safeguard the “special professional interests of foremen, technicians and managers” .


Training to become a foreman at public schools or schools with public rights is regulated in statutory curricula and generally lasts four semesters. The foreman schools for working people in accordance Schulorganisationsgesetz special forms of technical and commercial schools. As schools in the non-university tertiary sector , they are classified at ISCED 5B level . The prerequisite for admission to a foremen's school for employed people is a relevant apprenticeship qualification or a qualification from a relevant technical college. Most of the foreman schools in Austria are run by the Vocational Promotion Institutes (BFI) and the Economic Promotion Institutes (WIFI) as private schools with public rights. In addition to the narrow industrial sector, master craftsmen's degrees are also offered there for the sectors of construction and real estate, engineering offices, cosmetics, freight forwarding and transport agencies and insurance brokers .

The completion of a foreman school replaces, among other things, the apprenticeship trainer examination , the module "specialist area" of the vocational maturity examination and enables, together with the entrepreneurship examination, to exercise a trade after two to four years of professional activity.

Promotion qualification

According to the new engineering law (IngG 2017) that came into force on May 1, 2017, people with a master craftsman's qualification can apply for the qualification of engineer after six years of relevant professional experience if they can prove that they have a university entrance qualification ( Matura or equivalent qualification). A technical discussion with experts takes place to determine the qualification. The engineering certification bodies of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce are responsible for the procedure .

Equal opportunities for foremen in Austria and certified industrial foremen in Germany (since 2008)

Name of the Austrian certificate - Name of the German certificate:

  • Foreman for construction - certified foreman
  • Foreman for electrical engineering - certified industrial foreman specializing in electrical engineering
  • Foreman for plastics technology - certified industrial foreman specializing in plastics and rubber
  • Foreman for the paper industry - certified industrial foreman specializing in paper production
  • Foreman for technical chemistry and environmental technology - certified industrial foreman specializing in chemistry

Industrial and foreman in Switzerland

Federal diploma of an industrial foreman in the field of mechanical and apparatus engineering

Federally certified industrial master

The prerequisites for acquiring this job title are

  • a completed apprenticeship, a high school diploma or equivalent knowledge,
  • five years of practical work in a production company (vocational training / high school diploma are not taken into account), of which at least two years in a management position,
  • the passed final examination.

The exam is a higher qualifying exam , the protected final designation is a Swiss Certified foreman (short: .. Federally qualified foreman ). The duration of a preparatory course is around five semesters, but participation in such a course is not a prerequisite for admission to the examination.

Industrial master / foreman

The respective training institutes sometimes issue their own certificates for passing their preparatory course:

  • The certificate industrial master (without the federal diploma ) was previously awarded by the Swissmem Academy (or the previous institution, the Swissmem Kaderschule ). The associated 65-day course was a preparation for the higher technical examination and thus the federal. dipl. Industrial foreman. Since January 2020, the renewed corresponding training has led to the designation of industrial production manager .
  • The ZbW foreman is awarded by the Center for Continuing Vocational Training and also represents an (internal school) intermediate level to the federal. dipl. Industrial master.

The professional group (qualified and non-qualified) is represented by the Swiss Management Organization (SKO) with around 12,000 members, which until 1988 was called the Swiss Workers' Association (SWV).

See also


  • CH Antoni: Company management structure in transition. On the role and function of masters and group speakers in the context of group work. Beltz Verlag, Weinheim 1994.
  • P. Fuchs-Frohnhofen, K. Henning: The future of the master in modern work and production concepts. Volume I. Rainer Hampp Verlag, Munich and Mering 1997.
  • G. Wiendieck, G. Wiswede: Leadership in Transition: New Perspectives for Leadership Research and Leadership Practice . Ferdinand Enke Verlag, Erlangen 1990.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Information page of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DIHK); accessed on February 10, 2019
  2. ^ GA Seyler: J. Siebmacher's Wappenbuch: Berufswappen, Bauer & Raspe, Nuremberg 1898, p. 6 u. Plate 6, Fig. 5
  3. a b C.H. Antoni: Company management structure in transition - On the role and function of masters and group speakers in the context of group work. 1994, p. 117.
  4. ^ Gustav Grüner: Technical schools . In: Christa Berg (Hrsg.): Handbuch der deutschen Bildungsgeschichte . tape IV . CH Beck, Munich 1991, p. 389-398 .
  5. Rüdiger Hachtmann: The economic empire of the German labor front 1933-1945 (=  history of the present . Volume 3 ). Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen 2012, ISBN 978-3-8353-1037-7 , pp. 47 , note 48 .
  6. Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung: Employees' unions in Germany before 1933 - organizational overview. (PDF) Retrieved February 9, 2019 .
  7. John Großewinkelmann: Between work and school. Dual system and regional vocational training in the Solingen metal industry 1869–1945 . Klartext, Bochum 2004, p. 202 f .
  8. Stenographic minutes of the House of Representatives of the Reichsrathes . tape 20 . Imperial-Royal Court and State Printing Office, Vienna 1911, p. 10457 .
  9. German Werkmeister Association 1884-1909. Festschrift for the 25th anniversary celebration. Werkmeister bookstore, Düsseldorf 1910, p. 74
  10. ^ Friedrich C. Heller, Peter Revers: The Wiener Konzerthaus. History and significance 1913–1983 . Wiener Konzerthausgesellschaft, Vienna 1983, p. 158 .
  11. a b c P. Fuchs-Frohnhofen, K. Henning: The future of the master in modern work and production concepts 1997, pp. 1-44.
  12. CH Antoni: Company management structure in change - On the role and function of masters and group speakers in the context of group work. 1994, pp. 125-130.
  13. CH Antoni: Company management structure in change - On the role and function of masters and group speakers in the context of group work. 1994, pp. 130-133.
  14. Further education statistics of the DIHK ; accessed on February 10, 2019
  15. Text of the ordinance on the examination for the recognized qualification of certified industrial master craftsman - specializing in metal
  16. WIS database of the DIHK ; accessed on February 10, 2019
  17. Annual Report 2008 , (PDF; 539 kB).
  18. VDI on the German Qualifications Framework April 2012 ( Memento of the original from December 3, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , (PDF; 50 kB). @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  19. For the following s. Ingrid Drexel, Barbara Giessmann (Ed.): Professional groups in the transformation process. East Germany's engineers, masters, technicians and economists between yesterday and the day after tomorrow. Campus: Frankfurt am Main 1997 ( PDF). In particular Dirk Bunzel: From the governor of the entrepreneur to the henchman of the worker? - On the development of the VE master (pp. 113–148) and Dietrich Scholz: From VE master to industrial master - The role of associations and chambers in the transformation process (pp. 149–156).
  20. According to Dirk Bunzel: From the governor of the entrepreneur to the henchman of the worker? , P. 116.
  21. These attributes appeared in a similar or similar way on various master certificates.
  22. ↑ In addition Elke Ramlow, Dietrich Scholz: Masters degrees in East and West in comparison. ( Digitized version )
  23. VbF website (accessed on February 9, 2019). In the statutes (PDF) the name of the association is supplemented by the addition of brackets (foreman and technician) .
  24. List of master craftsman examinations (accessed on February 8, 2019).
  25. Entire legal regulation for the Engineering Act 2017 in the legal information system of the federal government (accessed on February 1, 2019).
  26. The possibility also have commercial masters and people with a college degree.
  27. With us to an engineer! ; Information from the Austrian Chamber of Commerce (accessed on February 1, 2019).
  28. Information from career counseling ; accessed on February 10, 2019.
  29. courses offered by the Swissmen Academy ; accessed on February 10, 2019
  30. Information from the education provider ; accessed on January 4, 2020
  31. Information from the ZbW ; accessed on February 10, 2019.