Modernizing metalwork

Engineering The Future

Produktion bei Volkswagen
Car workers make up a large proportion of IG Metall's members.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany’s engineering industry is at risk of being overtaken by rivals such as China if it does not modernize.

  • Facts


    • Germany’s machinery and plant-engineering industry has sales of more than €220 billion ($232 billion).
    • IG Metall is the country’s dominant metalworkers union.
    • 48 percent of IG Metall members believe their employer is badly prepared to deal with its aging workforce.
  • Audio


  • Pdf

With one million employees, sales of more than €220 billion ($232 billion) and global market leadership in 16 of 31 subsectors, the German machinery and plant engineering industry is in great shape.

Yet there’s no guarantee the future will be quite so rosy. In fact, if industrial policies in Germany are not put on the right track soon, the nation’s dominance in engineering is at risk.

An employee survey by IG Metall, Germany’s dominant metalworkers’ union, offers a nuanced view of the industry and its prospects. The report identified the aging workforce as a significant weak spot, with only a handful of companies developing plans to deal with it.

Asked how prepared their operations were to deal with the problem, 48 percent of respondents answered “poorly” or “not at all.” Asked if they could continue working until retirement age, 43 percent of workers answered no.

Those numbers highlight the necessity of lowering the average age with long-term personnel and recruitment planning. Companies must organize the transfer of knowledge from the old to the young and prepare an analysis of the qualifications required.

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe now or log in to read our coverage of Europe’s leading economy.