Engineering Change

Dr. Volker Kefer, president of The Association of German Engineers (VDI), argues that Germany owes its reputation as a technical and manufacturing powerhouse to its engineers. However, engineers must train across disciplines to stay on top in the era of digitalization.

December 2019


Collaboration across different technical disciplines, retraining and upskilling are essential if German engineers are to remain on top in the age of digitalization. © nd3000

Germany is the land of engineers, inventors and innovators. Pioneers like Gottlieb Daimler, Robert Bosch, Werner von Siemens and Ferdinand Porsche had an enormous impact on Germany in their time, and their legacy lives on today. Engineers are still a driving force of the country’s economic growth, contributing over EUR 220 billion to the value of the economy – more than any other occupational group.

Goods and services ‘Made in Germany’ are respected worldwide. The label is a guarantee of quality, reliability and precision. Germany owes its reputation as a leading location for technical know-how to its excellent engineers. Yet while German techies are drivers of digitalization and new business models, they also have to broaden their own skills base and gain interdisciplinary qualifications if they are to perform a variety of functions and meet the challenges presented by the digital transformation.

»Engineers are still the driving force.«

Dr. Volker Kefer,

president of The Association of German Engineers (VDI)

The Association of German Engineers (VDI) is committed to bringing universities and industry even closer together. The education agenda within the engineering sciences has always focused on practical applications and work with R&D departments. The fast-moving dynamics of digitalization demand that even qualified engineers regularly retrain and acquire new qualiifications. So cooperation between industry and academic institutions is critical.

As a nation of engineers, Germany offers optimal conditions for foreign companies to invest. Last year, it attracted almost 1,000 production and technology projects from overseas investors.

Germany’s SMEs are just as important as the global market leaders. They will be responsible if Germany takes the lead in technologies such as robotics, smart medicine or 3D printing. And last but not least, the country’s central location plays a decisive role for foreign companies looking to invest. Germany offers prosperous regional metropolises, supported by stable infrastructure and a robust political and legal environment. The interaction of high-quality education, research investment and a central location forms the basis for Germany’s future ­success.

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