Top-level discussion of the German economy: Ensuring Competitiveness

July 12, 2022

Top-level discussion participants (from left): Peter Adrian (President of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry), Hans Peter Wollseifer (President of ZDH), Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Prof. Siegfried Russwurm (BDI President) and Dr. Rainer Dulger (President of BDA) (Photo: ZDH / Ortrud Stegner)

During talks at the highest level of German business with Chancellor Olaf Scholz on July 8, 2022, IHM, ZDH, BDA, BDI and DIHK call on politicians to act decisively in the face of many interrelated crises – in solidarity with business.

The associations involved summarized their demands in a joint statement:

“Successive and overlapping crises of the recent past threaten the peace, freedom and prosperity of our country. Politicians must face these challenges decisively and in close cooperation with business. The economy and the world of work will change dramatically in the years to come. A comprehensive transformation process awaits us in Germany. The proven strengths of the German economy cannot simply continue. The strength of exports, competitiveness and a strong middle class must be further developed. Reducing one-sided dependencies, overcoming the energy crisis with currently rising energy costs and high inflation, as well as new geopolitical challenges pose big tasks for companies and enterprises. Restructuring of business models, production and services is complex and can only be managed by strong companies and operations. It also requires an appropriate number of specialists and employees. The German economy expects politicians to make decisions that create the freedom of entrepreneurship and the necessary flexibility, promote investment, strengthen international competitiveness and do not entail additional burdens and regulations. From the point of view of the German economy, the following fields of action are urgent:

Ensuring competitiveness and energy supply

The crises of the past and present have ruthlessly exposed the weaknesses and the need to catch up in Germany and Europe. Competitiveness and innovative power should be strengthened and resilience increased. We need to become more independent in supply chains and energy supplies. Reliable and competitive supplies of raw materials and energy are the basis of our business location. Ensuring a stable gas supply is now a high priority. In the medium term, the development of renewable energy and the grid must be synchronized. Equally important, energy efficiency must be improved in a non-bureaucratic way in buildings, businesses and enterprises. Requirements and formal reporting obligations are to be designed in a practical manner. Infrastructure development is essential to achieve ambitious climate goals and reduce dependence on energy policy, both for renewable energy generation and hydrogen pipelines, as well as for modern transport routes and digital highways.

Accelerate planning and approval processes

Within a few years, large fragments of infrastructure, buildings and technical installations have to be rebuilt, extended or modernized. However, planning and approval procedures take several years or even decades to complete. Ambitious targets for climate protection or digitization remain unattainable. Be it industrial plants, commercial and residential construction, wind turbines, hydrogen electrolysers, railroads, fiber optics and power lines: processes must be shortened to a few months. This requires a major overhaul of the legal framework for all sectors of the economy, not just for the development of renewable energy. As a general rule, planning and approval procedures should be accelerated through standardization, in particular as regards nature protection, regulating deadlines and simplifying procedural steps. In addition, a practical project of European environmental law is required. Federal and state governments should agree to equip planning and approval bodies, introduce consistent digital and standardized procedures, and provide space.

increase employment

The lack of workers and skilled workers has become a brake on growth. There is still a lot of potential in terms of value creation. The services can no longer be provided to the extent that there is a need for them. As of April, nearly 320,000 entries were vacant for all requirements in the MINT competition alone, especially in the energy / electricity and IT fields. We will lack these skills in the structural shift of digitization and decarbonisation. We must continue to use the full potential of the native workforce – through better education and training, better work-life balance, greater integration of people with disabilities and better integration of older workers. In addition, we will still need immigration. Accelerated and digitized administrative procedures are important levers here, as well as the targeted further development of the legal framework to remove obstacles to controlled immigration. Currently, recruiting from abroad is often unsuccessful due to long waiting times or overly complex requirements.

Acquiring skilled workers and launching the vocational training offensive

Germany needs a shift in education towards equality in academic and vocational education. There is a need for more material and non-material assessment for vocational training. Only with appropriately qualified specialists it is possible to realize the potential of our country and implement transformation processes. It is important to have a nationwide study and career orientation that provides information on training and further education opportunities in an equal and impartial manner. In order to be able to fill the growing proportion of training vacancies, it is necessary to give more weight to dual education and higher vocational training and to ensure the equivalence of vocational and academic training. The development of the training market into the application market requires the support of companies in filling training places. “

Source: ZDH

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