Prof Dr Kyriakos Kouveliotis, Provost and Chief Academic Officer at Berlin School of Business and Innovation (BSBI), delves into the perspectives of Germany’s professional needs, including if education provides a solution to this
In the current geopolitical business environment and after two years of the COVID-19 crisis, it is more challenging than ever for the business industry to redefine itself. This task is already extremely difficult, but it became even more complex with the situation in Ukraine. If we add the global logistics and transportation constraints, we are talking about an explosive mix. Most European economies are tormented by similar challenges, however, we will focus on Germany, Europe’s largest economy and the pillar of the Eurozone – exploring Germany’s professional needs.
Today, Germany is experiencing one of the most deciding phases of its history. It is commonly agreed that its population is ageing, but at the same time, the construction industry and services are booming. These elements generate more professional needs and as a consequence, different educational needs. Following these changes, it is clear that all 16 federal states in Germany require more highly skilled personnel in the following sectors:
• Information technology.
In this framework, we can identify which particular professions are the most useful ones for Germany today. As highlighted on the official website of the Federal Government for qualified professionals these are:
Carers and nursing professionals
Germany has a stable healthcare system, thanks to well-trained personnel in healthcare and nursing professions. That is the reason why hospitals, home care services and facilities for nursing are always looking for qualified professionals.
The German healthcare system depends on young and qualified workers: hospitals, specialist clinics, healthcare centres and private practices are constantly on the lookout for doctors and other trained professionals in the medical field.
This profession is associated with what we call Industry 4.0, where the use of digital technologies reveals a wide range of new perspectives in engineering. This also has an impact on the demand for skilled workers, which is why many companies are urgently looking for qualified engineers.
The German IT sector is booming: every year, thousands of new jobs are offered in the IT industry. Therefore, experienced or freshly trained IT specialists are always in demand. There are demands for jobs in start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises, large companies or in the manufacturing industry.
Bioengineering, power and environmental engineering or pharmaceutics – when it comes to scientific disciplines, the demand is high. Qualified personnel trained in STEM subjects are urgently sought after in many fields.
Skilled crafts and trades are the heart and soul of the German Mittelstand, meaning small and medium-sized businesses. With its wide range of products and services, the skilled crafts sector caters to private individuals, the industrial sector and commerce. This diversity leads to a high demand for skilled workers in craftsmanship.
Germany’s educational system must adapt rapidly
Based on Germany’s professional needs and these demands, it is easy to comprehend that Germany’s educational system must adapt rapidly, modernize its programmes and offer new innovative solutions. However, this process needs to take place quickly and will have a direct effect on nearly everything that is associated with education, for example, new syllabi, new learning outcomes, new aims and objectives, but also new content and methods of educational delivery.
In this sense, the COVID-19 crisis helped in this domain. We discovered online and blended approaches to learning and also how to respond fast to new needs. Universities, colleges, but also lifelong learning centers have a critical role to play. This is also the social role of education: to serve society and humankind. It is also a huge investment for future generations. As Benjamin Franklin once commented: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”! (1)
We can conclude that Germany’s ability to successfully respond to the challenges highlighted above, will play a significant role in all other European countries via a domino effect. It is, therefore, vital for educational institutions to try to fulfil their new role and provide solutions at country level and not only to industrial needs as has been the case in the past.
Germany: Education & research focus
Bettina Stark-Watzinger, Federal Minister of Education and Research in Germany (1) recently underlined the importance of education and research to tackle the global challenges of today. This was at the G7 meeting of the Science Ministers of the world’s seven top economies, who all have the same goal of close cooperation in science and research. When the G7 Science Ministers met in Frankfurt/Main in June 2022, they discussed three topics: climate, health plus protecting research freedom.
“Science and research are vital for our future: There will be no progress and innovation without research,” was the opening statement by host Bettina Stark-Watzinger. This significant meeting comes at a time when the world encounters facing major challenges, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that threatens researchers, hence a much stronger focus on the security and integrity of science and the community of the same.
“As the G7, we are committed to supporting and enhancing international research on the post- COVID-19 condition,” said Federal Research Minister Stark-Watzinger. As well as the challenges posed by COVID-19, especially the longer-term consequences of infection, science ministers discussed climate change. Minister Stark-Watzinger declared: “Our commitments still hold true. We want to achieve the 1.5 degree target set out in the Paris Agreement. This means we must work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But we also need to actively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.” (2)
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