“There was no more to do,” says the FDP. Schulz wants to “treat” it, the Greens are “ready” for change, and even the CDU, which has been a ruling party for 16 years, is declaring a “decade of modernization”. So it looks like something has to change in Germany Common sense to be, but is the country ready for it? Consulting firm McKinsey examined this question in a study. The result is mixed.
Among employees subject to Social Security contributions, 70 percent see it necessary to have a technically driven, substantive change. Only the youngest, between the ages of 20 and 29, believe that the change will improve the social and economic situation in Germany, and the oldest are skeptical. They fear that new technologies have not been sufficiently tested yet, and some also admit that they prefer to follow old habits.
According to study authors Graciana Petersen and Gérard Richter of McKinsey, if Germany is to keep pace with competing nations such as the United States or China, one must rely on technological leadership. “If Germany wants, it can too,” Richter says. When it comes to research and development, one is always in the first group globally, but many initiatives are “highly fragmented”. In order to master the complex challenges of the present, one must focus more strongly.
Attitudes toward technology must change
In Petersen’s opinion, this must be accompanied by a change in attitudes towards technology. “We have to find a common language that communicates transparently why creative innovation is necessary with technological leadership,” she demands. Politics, business, and educational institutions must address and answer residents’ concerns and questions regarding change. For example, whether jobs have always been lost as a result of automation. Young people should also be interested in entrepreneurship. Petersen: “The path to an employee or civil servant relationship is not an automatic path.”
The study’s authors argue that the necessary rapid change can only be achieved through technology. However, given the limited resources, measurable goals are also essential. Initiatives must be prioritized in an understandable manner and progress reviewed regularly. The state and the economy will have to work together more closely than before. More than 70 percent of the 5,000 respondents between the ages of 20 and 65 agree. Respondents desire more cooperation between the state and the business sector, especially in the areas of additional lifelong training, in basic research and in the implementation of scientific findings in practice.
And what if it were up to the chancellors, what would be the most important tasks of the future federal government? It should “update and shape the next generation of global technology, particularly renewable energies technologies, bio-evolution and applied artificial intelligence,” says Graciana Petersen. The budget for research and development should be gradually increased to five percent of GDP, and the results should be carefully evaluated. To this end, the public sector must become more results-oriented and more future-oriented in the areas of digitization, energy transformation, and infrastructure investments.
The education system is under criticism
Consultants also see a major task facing society when it comes to changes in the world of work. The state should create ten million jobs in various fields of activity “that help shape change towards a more creative and innovative society,” Petersen says. The education system in particular scores very poorly in the survey. Not even a third think it prepares the next generation well for the demands of the future. Technical skills are not even at the top, but social skills, only then come things like software development or flexible working.
But there is still a lot to do with infrastructure. For example, Germany lags even some Eastern European countries in expanding fiber optic lines, not to mention Japan, South Korea or Sweden. By the time this is somewhat complete, the first lines will have to be replaced again, because fiberglass will not last more than 30 or 40 years – if you have not fallen victim to the excavator beforehand. So there is a lot to do, no matter who wins the September 26 election.
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