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      Shaping Change in a Sustainable and Socially Acceptable Manner: “It Is a Matter of Social Harmony”

      • Unemployment and the shortage of skilled workers: The imbalance in Germany’s labor market is growing
      • Continental calls for lawmakers, companies, associations and social partners to join forces
      • Dr. Ariane Reinhart, Continental’s Executive Board member for Human Relations: “We can shape the change in a sustainable and, above all, socially acceptable manner only if we collaborate. It is a matter of social harmony”
      • Advanced training is the key to preventing unemployment and halting the mounting shortage of skilled workers
      • Ariane Reinhart: “We need a master plan. National workforce planning and a national advanced training plan are our levers to shape the transformation and structural change”
      • More than 1,000 participants meanwhile attend the technology company’s own advanced training institute

      Hanover, June 4, 2021. Unemployment and a shortage of skilled workers – in order to counteract this imbalance on the German labor market, Continental is calling on lawmakers, companies, associations and social partners to join forces. “Germany is facing a major challenge. Many employees are at risk of losing their jobs due to digitalization, technological disruptions and the pandemic. At the same time, a number of industries are heading toward a permanent shortage of skilled workers – with significant consequences for the economic growth in Germany,” said Dr. Ariane Reinhart, Continental’s Executive Board member for Human Relations. In principle, Germany’s labor market will have a sufficient workforce in the coming years to close the gaps that arise due to the worsening shortage of skilled workers, according to Reinhart. “But in order for this transformation process to succeed in the labor market, the necessary framework conditions must be created. It is evident across all industries that advanced training is the key to coping with the shortage of skilled workers and the threat of unemployment.”

      Lawmakers and companies must collaborate more closely than ever before to steer this process in a targeted manner. “Structural change can be mastered only if all stakeholders cooperate,” said Reinhart. “Society has the obligation to secure everyone’s employability for the future. We must do all we can to avoid unemployment. That’s the only way we can preserve social prosperity and social harmony.”

      A shortage of skilled workers leads to high costs in many industries

      The German Federal Employment Agency currently anticipates the shortage of skilled workers will become more noticeable on the labor market once the acute phase of the coronavirus pandemic subsides. “This is already clear in many places,” said Detlef Scheele, chairman of the German Federal Employment Agency. “According to the German Federal Employment Agency, there are around 18,000 vacancies in the IT sector. We see a similar trend in nursing and hospital activities, and in many other sectors – in trade and industry, for example, as well as in STEM professions (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).” At the same time, according to Scheele, the increasing automation of processes associated with the transformation would eliminate low-skilled activities, and jobs would be created that require higher qualifications. “This is not something specific to Continental; it is a general trend,” he stated.

      “We need a master plan. We must use national workforce planning to determine which employees with which skills the German economy will need in five years,” urged Reinhart. A national advanced training plan must be created based on this foundation – starting with apprenticeship positions and universities through advanced training measures and retraining initiatives, internally in companies as well as through government agencies and training institutions operated by trade unions. “These are our levers to shape the transformation and structural change in Germany.”

      Continental is a pioneer in the advanced training of employees

      Continental launched a comprehensive advanced training offensive in 2018 for the transformation of jobs. One of the building blocks is the Continental Institute for Technology and Transformation (CITT), the corporation’s own institute for advanced training founded in 2019. “More than 1,000 course participants continue to receive full wages while attending its advanced training programs to become qualified for other activities. We aim to increase this number to over 2,000 participants in 2022,” Reinhart reported.

      Head of the German Federal Employment Agency Scheele emphasized in this respect that the Qualification Opportunities Act and the Work of Tomorrow Act are effective tools to counteract the imbalance on the labor market. “Short-time work income has also proven to be a useful tool to prevent unemployment, particularly during the pandemic,” said Scheele. “But it cannot be the preferred method to achieve permanent solutions to structural problems. So it is important that short-time work be linked with training measures wherever it makes sense.”

      “These laws are important and very helpful for promoting qualifications. We can and aim to use them to support our employees in the transformation and counteract the shortage of skilled workers,” explained Reinhart. “But that alone is not enough. The framework conditions must change in some occupations, such as nursing, so that people are motivated to retrain for new careers. Lawmakers must also design financial bridges for affected employees so that they can proactively embrace and help shape the transformation.”

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