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Saxony's brush makers recruit skilled workers

Brushes lie on a table / Photo: Waltraud Grubitzsch/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa/Archivbild
Brushes lie on a table / Photo: Waltraud Grubitzsch/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa/Archivbild

Saxony wants to focus more on its 200-year-old tradition of brush makers - also to attract urgently needed skilled workers to the industry. The local brush manufacturers are "hidden champions" that radiate beyond Saxony and Germany, said Regional Development Minister Thomas Schmidt (CDU) on Friday in Stützengrün (Saxon Ore Mountains). It is important to strengthen such strengths of the regional economy. In the border region between the Ore Mountains and Vogtland are reportedly active about 20 companies that produce a wide range of brushes: from brooms to toothbrushes to shaving brushes.

As "hidden champions" are rather unknown companies, each of which is considered a market leader in their industry - which are therefore "unknown world market leaders."

"Almost every second toothbrush in Germany comes from Stützengrün," said Mayor Volkmar Viehweg. However, he said, the shortage of skilled workers poses problems for the industry. This is confirmed by the company Mühle Rasurkultur: In recent years, it has not been possible to find trainees for the profession of brush and brush maker. According to Viehweg, attempts are now being made to establish a specialization in the area of training as a machine and plant operator with a view to the requirements of the brush industry.

The beginnings of brush manufacturing in the Ore Mountains go back 200 years. With the decline of mining, people there were looking for a new source of income, which they reportedly found around 1820 in the manufacture of brushes and paintbrushes. They used the wood of native forests as well as bristles as waste from butcher's shops.

To tie in with this, the region wants to market itself more strongly as a "German brush region." To this end, an industry get-together of European brush and paintbrush makers is planned for September, as is a training campaign called "Brush Maker 2.0." A record attempt for the world's largest toothbrush, which according to Viehweg should be about twice to three times as large as the previous record of three meters, is expected to cause a stir. There are also ideas for a brush experience.

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