Closing the blue-collar workforce gap: Our Investment in montamo

Project A leads the first round into montamo, a Berlin- and Munich-based blue-collar workforce development platform.

by Mila Cramer

This one has been a long time in the making! We started looking more deeply at the broader landscape of blue-collar workforce development over a year ago. The headlines were hard to miss: Germany is grappling with a significant shortage of skilled workers in blue-collar jobs. This shortage is driven by several factors, including an aging workforce (with 50% of current blue-collar workers in Germany set to retire in the next decade), post-baby-boomer generations declining in size, and a growing trend of young people opting for university education (46% of German high school graduates pursuing higher education immediately after finishing high school, compared to 37% in 2010). The situation is further exacerbated by an escalating demand for that work. Germany faces a gap of hundreds of thousands of skilled workers in the coming years. Specifically, we’re estimated to lack around 60,000 installation workers to accomplish the planned shift from fossil-fueled heating to net-zero heating. This transition requires installing 500,000 heat pumps annually starting in 2024. To put that into context: Thermondo’s report published in April 2023 [PDF] revealed that they had installed approximately 1,000 heat pumps since June 2022 and were at the time installing about 80 heat pumps each week, employing a workforce of 450 installers.

Long story short: we have a problem and need to fix it — yesterday.

While there are very promising models, benefiting from the strong market tension by shifting existing capacities (such as PowerUs), we believe that to bridge the gap, we must also add more capacity to the market. This involves two key strategies: a) enhancing productivity and b) attracting more people to the trades. Both, we believe, can only be achieved by controlling the entire value chain through an end-to-end platform. Hence, montamo not only train skilled workers but also employ and deploy them. They don’t, however, engage directly with end customers. They operate one layer below, selling to demand aggregators, distributors, OEMs, and major installation companies that expand with external contractors. With challengers having won market share in PV at an impressive rate over the last few years, there is now increasing tension between OEMs and distributors in the heat pump space, which is where montamo’s focus lies.

While operationally more demanding, we believe this approach holds the potential to gain higher adoption of software tools used throughout the installation process (thereby boosting productivity), ensure effective quality control, and foster a culture that embraces diversity while offering perspective to skilled workers, allowing montamo to tap into a new pool of talent.

After a year-long search for the perfect team, we couldn’t be more thrilled to partner with Alex and Ole, the two founders of montamo. Alex spent the last 1.5 years as the Director of Operations Steering at Gorillas/Getir, overseeing rider and warehouse operations. Ole has previously launched and scaled two companies. Their passion for the space, coupled with their experience in building high-performing teams within a challenging, low-margin environment, stood out to us as unique in the market.

Please get in touch if you’re building in the space!