In Germany this summer you can use public transport for 9 euros a month. Innovation Origins takes this opportunity to visit a number of future projects. In this episode, we’re going to the Ideas Expo in Hanover.
In hindsight, this is a stupid idea. With local transport from Berlin to Hanover. It can’t go well. Indeed, the first train to Rathenow breaks down. There is a “signal failure” coming from the speaker. The result is three-quarters of an hour late and I miss the connection to Stendal. There is nothing else but to spend an hour and a half in the “City of Optics”.
“Young and dynamic,” says Rathenow on his website, which is widely regarded as the cradle of the German eyewear industry in the early 19th century. But those times are long gone, today Rathenov is rather gloomy and abandoned.
The only heartwarming thing in the center are the floor panels in front of the regional office with quotes about freedom. There is also one of the best fish sandwiches on the market. The fishmonger says the part of town along the Havel is the prettiest, but there’s no time for that.
The rest of the trip was relatively smooth thanks to the two changes at Stendal and Uelzen.
Uelzen is especially fun because of the Harry Potter-meets-Gaudi-esque train station, full of weird ornaments and platforms with weird numbers. It was designed by the Austrian artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser.
After more than seven hours, I finally reached my destination in Hanover. I just need to change to the tram to get to the exhibition center and then to IdeasExpo 2022.
This is not the most famous trade fair in Hanover. This is the Hanover trade fair where international industrial companies advertise their latest machines, software and other equipment. Also at IdeasExpo last week, it was all about technology. However, the target audience is different. Ideas Expo is dedicated exclusively to young people aged 10 to 20.
It is a trade fair that has existed since 2007 and deals with a problem that has now spread throughout Europe: the lack of technically qualified personnel.
We see different things at the fair. There are mbo, habo, universities and research institutes that show what you can learn. However, most of the stands are manned by companies trying to convince young people that working for them is the coolest thing ever.
From aerial platforms to robots
At the fair, students can, for example, mint their own coins, cut tiles, create a mini roof garden, learn how autonomous cars work, experiment with solar panels, ride a lift, try out 3D glasses and participate in dozens of workshops. All this is supervised by the so-called trainees, young adults who combine training with work in a company.
This seems to work because there are happy faces everywhere at the fair. It is striking that there are no major differences between boys and girls. Everyone is having a good time, present in equal numbers and equally interested.
This is the intention of the organizers, because even in Germany there are still too few girls who choose science subjects such as physics, mathematics or chemistry.
IdeasExpo is closely related to the initiative of German employers’ associations, consisting in the creation of the so-called MINT schools. They are schools that focus on maths, computer science, life sciences and technology.
The first schools were established about 14 years ago. In the meantime, 19 upper secondary schools received the highest badge “Fabryka Wiedzy” and more than 2,000 schools that were “MIĘTKA-friendly”.
An employee of the German Aviation Center (DLR) is satisfied with IdeasExpo. “We lack employees, and it will only get worse in the future.” I regret that the Expo has become a showcase of companies in recent years. As a result, science was relegated to the background.
According to Volker Schmidt, Chairman of the Expo Supervisory Board, the fair is very beneficial for the society. First of all, young people can decide whether they prefer to study or work with their own hands. Schmidt: Both are equally important. Without STEM professions, you cannot build smart homes or low-carbon heating systems in the future. “
Mike Schneider from the Lower Saxony Chamber of Commerce and Industry emphasizes that good money can also be made in technical professions. “And job security is great.”
According to Martin Leutz, spokesman for the Gesamtmetall trade association, the shortage of workers has worsened in recent years. “In the metal and electrical industry, approx. 10 percent. internships and internships cannot be filled and has not been for years. ” In his opinion, this is also due to the demographic development. In 2001, 688 thousand people took the final exams. people, in 2021 only 461 thousand. This is a decrease of more than 30 percent.
“That’s why IdeasExpo is so important to us. The importance of showing pupils in practice what is behind a given job should not be underestimated. The great thing is that there are not only HR managers here, but also interns who can tell visitors about their experiences at eye level and why they are so enthusiastic about their work. “
One of Leutz’s favorite stands at the fair was the Siemens stand, which displayed a model of the container loading facility. Interns told him that they had developed special software to reduce container swaying. In precision work, such as loading a ship, this is not an easy task. “I like it. It’s exciting and practical at the same time.”
Not only IdeasExpo supports the education of young people. For example, Gesamtmetall travels by bus to schools to arrange internships.
The ship that will sail through Germany this summer is also very interesting, and it has scientists from large research institutes such as Max Planck, Fraunhofer and Leibniz. Of course, the ship is intended not only for schoolchildren, but also for adults who regularly listen to lectures on the latest scientific discoveries. Fraunhofer also has its own permanent and open knowledge center in Nuremberg. “Open innovation laboratory” Joseph.
The event in Hanover ended with a celebration yesterday. The organizers were pleased with the estimated 425,000 visitors who came one or more times in the past week.
On the way home, I take the express train. Estimated travel time just over 2 hours. Due to the detour via Braunschweig, it will take 2 hours and 45 minutes. It is certain that the German rail network could benefit from several billion additional investments.