Digital working world needs flexibility and education

Brüssel, Jan 27, 2016
  • Conference in Brussels with German Employer President Ingo Kramer and Wilfried Porth, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Human Resources and Director of Labor Relations, IT & Mercedes-Benz Vans
Brussels - At their joint conference today “ Digital working world: opportunities and challenges for companies and personnel”, the Association of German Employer Confederations (BDA) and Daimler AG together with European guests turn their gaze to increasing digitalisation: what can be digitalised will be digitalised. Not only are production and manufacturing processes changing, but also the work environment of employees. Man and machine already work hand in hand but in future industrial production will be even more connected. Digitalisation enables new freedoms for jobs in the production sphere and in administration: mobile working with the most up-to-date communication technology means that many tasks be performed from anywhere and with timing flexibility.
Education system must understand digital skills as a key qualification
German Employer President Ingo Kramer explains: “We must ask ourselves what needs to be done for us to be able to keep up with this change. And we must give people support so that they see changes in the economy and the working world not as a threat but as an opportunity. The global connection of markets and societies is shrinking the world at a very fast rate. It is customers who set the pace: they expect companies to react to individual wishes ever more rapidly and to be there for them around the clock anywhere in the world. To do this, companies must be able to react flexibly. Flexibility is one of the most important preconditions for success in the digitalised world. I am convinced that the digitalisation of employees and companies alike offers more opportunities than risks. A decisive precondition is education: digital skills must be seen as a key qualification. They must be communicated across a broad front – in schools, in universities and similarly in vocational education and training. Our shared aim must be to exploit the full potential of education. If we succeed in this, flexibility will not constitute a threat to us in Europe but an opportunity for everybody – more specifically the opportunity for individuals to determine for themselves how to live and how to interact in our society through education and work.”
Adapt framework conditions in order to use the opportunities of digitalisation
Wilfried Porth, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Human Resources and Director of Labor Relations, IT & Mercedes-Benz Vans adds: “ Daimler AG regards digitalisation of the working world as a great opportunity. The digital change can take place not only in the production facilities and offices of Daimler AG but must also be reflected in political framework conditions: the law governing our working time is no longer in step with reality. It is rooted in a working world which is almost one hundred years old and was developed to provide protection against the extremely heavy physical work prevalent at the time. Today we need much more leeway in order to be able to attract the best talents also in the future, because we want more individual responsibility and self-determination. We do not want to remove any protective function but we must make the rules more flexible and adjust today’s requirements on work and people’s wishes in the direction of flexibility. In addition, collective agreements must not lock out the opportunities of digitalisation. Wages and salaries are currently based largely on weekly or monthly working time. This means that the remuneration system is oriented on an outdated culture of presence and not on a culture of results. We can talk at length and in detail about the advantages and the innovation potential of Silicon Valley but be cannot expect that this successful model can be replicated in Germany with the framework conditions applicable today. Our goal is to exploit the advantages of digitalisation to the full and that will only work if policy-makers and trade unions also help to bring about change, alongside companies.”

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