- Continental welcomes progress on the Training Opportunities Act, but recognizes the need for amendments to key points
- Focused training ensures Germany’s competitiveness as a business location
- Dr. Ariane Reinhart, Executive Board member for Human Relations: “Training needs to take place predominantly in-company and should also receive funding there”
- Representative Continental survey: Employees consider training very important
Hanover, November 1, 2018. Continental supports preventive training to ensure the long-term employability of staff, but recognizes the need for amendments to the draft of the planned Qualifizierungschancengesetz (Training Opportunities Act). “The challenges that digitalization brings cannot be overcome by companies alone. The draft Training Opportunities Act is therefore an important step but amendments to crucial points are still required,” said Dr. Ariane Reinhart, Executive Board member for Human Relations at Continental.
The draft act currently envisages funding only for external training of at least four weeks. “It is unacceptable that only training taking place outside work receives funding. This goes against all experience with effective learning. Efficient learning is done best in the company itself because you can learn more quickly there due to the practical element and the employees are suitably motivated,” explained Reinhart. “Practical process-oriented learning provides the best chance of success, particularly for employees who have not needed to learn new things for a long time.” The technology company’s Executive Board member for Human Relations also questioned the scaling of funding according to company size. “Training needs to be targeted. Only companies that have strategic workforce planning in place for the next five years and know how many employees and which skills they need, and when and where they need them, should receive funding. That means that it is possible to make certain that contributors’ money will be invested productively.”
The technology company has already been investing in employee training for many years. However, the costs in store for all companies in the next few years due to increasing training needs cannot be covered by these companies alone.
“To train only 20 percent of our employees in Germany for nine months would cost us €1 billion. In order to ensure Germany’s status as a business location, training can be managed only in collaboration with the government, administration, unions and academia – and only when every individual employee takes responsibility for his or her own participation,” according to Reinhart.
Increased motivation for training among German employees
German employees have already recognized the importance of training for ensuring their own employability. Ninety percent are prepared to undertake further training and would invest up to 10 hours per month outside working hours in further personal development. This is the result of a representative survey by opinion research company YouGov that questioned 4,500 employees over 18 years of age in Germany, the U.S.A., China and Japan. The survey, conducted on behalf of Continental, showed that the Chinese (86 percent) are also prepared to complete work-related training, whereas in Japan the same figure is only 36 percent. Just like in Germany, around half of those surveyed in the U.S.A., China and Japan were prepared to invest up to 10 hours per month in their professional development outside working hours. The German respondents to the survey are hoping to achieve a higher salary through further training (70 percent), while for the Chinese, the focus is on new job prospects (59 percent).
Training works only if theory and practice go hand in hand
Today at Continental, there is already a wide variety of different modules on offer for further training and knowledge transfer. The technology company is using targeted training to react to issues that will become increasingly important in the future, such as electric mobility, in order to respond to the expected transition in drive technology from combustion engines to electric motors with internal retraining. “Training at Continental is always matched exactly to the employees’ skills and abilities using a range of valid diagnostic procedures. We have thus created a space for learning at Continental, in which all employees can find the life-long learning opportunities that are right for them,” said Reinhart.
In 2015, Continental had already expanded its training programs to include the future profession of “automotive software developer”. The company developed this new role specifically for university dropouts with a passion for IT to address the growing need for skilled workers in this area early on. In addition to this, the “Fit for Industry 4.0” initiative came in 2017. This involves three special training programs for unskilled production employees to equip them for industry 4.0.
Reinhart also wants this combination of theory and practice to be included in the Training Opportunities Act. “In order to actively prepare our current employees for the future requirements of their roles, learning should take place as part of a process, as in combined work/study programs, and not only over an extended period outside the work environment. It is now up to legislators to make the draft more flexible and also to make training in a professional context eligible for funding,” according to Reinhart. “We support the initiative and are confident that the amendments we are proposing provide an effective solution for ensuring Germany’s status as a business location.”