“There has never been more to do,” says the FDP. Scholz wants to “tackle it”, the Greens are “ready” for change, and even the CDU, in power for 16 years, proclaims a “decade of modernization”. That something needs to change in Germany seems like common sense, but is the country ready for it? The McKinsey consulting firm looked into this question in a study. The result is mixed.
Among employees subject to social security contributions, 70 percent consider it essential that there be substantial change, driven by technology. Only the youngest between 20 and 29 think that a change will improve the social and economic situation in Germany, the older ones are more skeptical. They fear that new technologies have not yet been sufficiently tested, and some also admit that they would rather follow old habits.
According to study authors Graciana Petersen and McKinsey’s Gérard Richter, if Germany wants to keep up with competing countries such as the United States or China, it must rely on technological leadership. “If Germany wants it, it can too,” says Richter. When it comes to research and development, we are always in the first group in the world, but many initiatives are “too fragmented”. In order to master the complex challenges of the present, one must focus more strongly.
Attitudes towards technology must change
According to Petersen, this must be accompanied by a change in attitude towards technology. “We need to find a common language that transparently expresses why a creative renewal with technological leadership is needed,” she demands. Politics, businesses and educational institutions must embrace and respond to the fears and questions of the population in connection with change. For example, if jobs have always been lost due to automation. Young people must also be interested in entrepreneurship. Petersen: “The path to a civil servant or employee relationship is not automatic.”
The study’s authors believe that the rapid change needed can only be achieved through technology. Given limited resources, however, measurable goals are also needed. Initiatives should be prioritized in an understandable way and progress checked regularly. The state and the economy should work together more closely than before. Over 70 percent of 5,000 respondents aged 20 to 65 agree. The people questioned want more cooperation between the State and companies, particularly in the areas of lifelong training, basic research and the implementation of scientific discoveries.
And what, if it depended on the councilors, would be the most important tasks of the future federal government? It is expected to “engender and shape the next generation of global technologies, especially technologies for renewable energy, biorevolution and applied artificial intelligence,” says Graciana Petersen. The research and development budget should be gradually increased to five percent of gross domestic product, and the results should be carefully evaluated. The public sector must be more oriented towards results and the future in the fields of digitization, energy transition and investment in infrastructure.
The education system is criticized
Consultants also see a major task for the company in the face of changes in the world of work. The country is to create ten million jobs in various fields of activity “which help shape change towards a more innovative and creative society,” said Petersen. The education system in particular scores very poorly in the survey. Not even a third party thinks they are preparing the next generation well for the demands of the future. Technical skills aren’t even on top, but social skills, only then do things like software development or agile working happen.
But there is still a lot to do with infrastructure. For example, Germany even lags behind some Eastern European countries in expanding fiber optic lines, let alone Japan, South Korea or Sweden. And by the time that is more or less finished, the first lines have to be replaced again, because the glass fibers will not last more than 30 or 40 years – if they are not the victim of an excavator first. So there is a lot to do, no matter who wins the September 26 election.