HANOVER, Germany—Continental A.G. has warned that Germany is facing a major challenge with many employees being at the risk of losing their jobs due to "digitalization, technological disruptions and the pandemic."
"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.
Continental is employing a comprehensive training program in Germany for employees as part of the "Continental in Motion" program. Conti's move toward automation could directly impact as many as 30,000 jobs worldwide through modification, relocation or layoffs. About 13,000 of the jobs expected to experience some impact are in Germany.
According to Reinhart, Germany's labor market will have a sufficient work force in the coming years to close the labor market gap if "the necessary framework conditions" are created.
"We need a master plan. We must use national work force planning to determine which employees with which skills the German economy will need in five years," urged Reinhart.
Reinhart recommended that a national advanced training plan be created, initially offering apprenticeship positions as well as training programs through universities, companies and government agencies. "These are our levers to shape the transformation and structural change in Germany," she said.
Law makers, she added, must also design financial bridges for employees so that they can embrace the transformation in the labor market.
Citing the German Federal Employment Agency, Conti said the shortage of skilled workers will become more noticeable in Germany once the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
"This is already clear in many places," said the agency chairman Detlef Scheele, adding that there are around 18,000 vacancies in the IT sector in Germany.
A similar trend is also observed in nursing and hospital activities, and in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) professions, he added.
"Short-time work income has also proven to be a useful tool to prevent unemployment, particularly during the pandemic," Scheele said. "But it cannot be the preferred method to achieve permanent solutions to structural problems." He called for short-time work to be linked with training measures "wherever it makes sense."
Continental launched its training offensive in 2018 and founded the Continental Institute for Technology and Transformation in 2019.
Currently more than 1,000 participants are receiving advanced training while paid full wage, Reinhart said.
Conti aims to increase this number to more than 2,000 participants in 2022.