The name of the “50 German Leaders Summit” says it all: fifty companies and institutions from across Germany were selected to come together at a special conference, held in Berlin. Wolfgang Bosbach of CDU (the Christian Democratic Union of Germany) and José Manuel Barroso, former President of the European Commission, spoke at the event. Professor Christina Günther, holder of the IHK Chair of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises at of WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management—the only university present at the summit—participated in a panel discussion, placing significant emphasis on both the role of education for the future of Germany’s national economy and the reasons for a lack of political interest in this area.
“Us Germans see a lot of problems in our country. Yet, our economic success and political stability are highly impressive to others,” said Bosbach, formerly a long-standing member of the Bundestag, before offering an example. “While we in Germany have only seen three different heads of government take power over the past 40 years, the United Kingdom has seen six, Greece 15, and Italy 16.” According to him, the way toward maintaining attractive political conditions for the future economy is to fight back against an ever-increasing fragmentation of society.
That these political conditions for the economy, however, need to change was something that all of the representatives could agree on, as the current prerequisites for succeeding in both the European and global markets is no longer optimal for German companies. Franz-Peter Falke, of the famous hosiery brand Falke, echoed this sentiment, bemoaning over-regulation. In his eyes, Germany must recall its strengths in being a land of engineers and tinkerers—and reactivate its potential for innovation. To do that, he says, the country needs less regulation and more support from the political sphere.
WHU’s Professor Christina Günther, coming to the role of education for the country’s future and prosperity, said, “There’s a big mismatch in the job market. June of 2022 saw a lack of 538,000 skilled labors in Germany. At the same time, there remain 63,000 open apprenticeships slots and 200,000 teenagers leaving school and yet lacking in basic skills.” She continued, saying that German politics appears not to see a burning need to address these issues, as education is a long-term task and, as such, solves no short-term problems.
How one could solve such problems became the topic of discussion among the eventgoers during the breaks in between panels. And with these personal exchanges, they gained new insights into other industries and the specific challenges that these are facing as well.
The conference is linked to 50 German Leaders, a series of film documentaries profiling the most forward thinking companies in Germany. The series will premiere last this year through www.welt.de.