© Florian Bayer

Economy and education

Germany’s economic power is largely the result of its education and training system and its applied research in the eyes of interviewees. But is Germany flexible and innovative enough to face the digital age?

Exemplary vocational training

Much praise was voiced for Germany’s education system. It not only communicates theory, knowledge and ethical principles, but also practical skills. In addition, it encourages young people to accept responsibility. The dual training system is particularly admired. It is strongly geared to the needs in industry and helps get young people into employment. It is considered exemplary around the world.

What sets technology and science in Germany apart, is the holistic approach taken.

Research system – the perennial second place

Germany’s research and university system is considered good, but it simply cannot match the top elite universities in the USA and the United Kingdom. The hierarchical system in place in German universities also comes in for criticism. There is seen to be a lack of creativity, independence and international focus. What is felt to work well, by contrast, is the interplay between education, technology and industry. Other countries could benefit more from this too, in the view of interviewees.

The strengths of Germany’s economy

While financial crises and unemployment rock many countries, Germany appears to weather the storm practically unscathed. Politicians are credited with taking the right steps in this context. Germany’s technology is also seen as an important factor in ensuring stability, along with the country’s robust small and medium-sized business sector. The country’s strength also, however, raises great expectations in terms of industrial and ethical standards. Corruption scandals, in particular the diesel fiasco, have seriously shaken confidence and trust in Germany.

Has Germany missed the digitalisation boat?

German brands and products are strong, and are unchallenged leaders in many spheres. In general, though, a certain reluctance can be seen to embrace anything new or modern. Criticism was voiced, in particular, with respect to digitalisation. Although it is a high-tech country, Germany has no ‘big players’, and that was a source of astonishment for interviewees with a view to the future viability of Germany’s industry.

Germans still write letters. By hand. They put them in an envelope, go to the post office and queue up for ages to post them. And, best of all, they still pay in cash, using coins and notes!

The chapter ‘The economy and education – fit for the digital future?’ provides more information on the findings of the study.

Additional information