The Future of Work in Germany

Abstract: 

Intelligent machines are transforming the way we produce, the way we work, the way we learn, and the way we live throughout the world. Individual drivers and major logistics companies such as UPS are using new technologies to optimize their route planning. Companies such as BMW and Tesla have already released self-driving features in their automobiles, which are produced with the help of sophisticated robots. DHL has launched a fully automated and intelligent urban drone-delivery system in China. Drones are also being used to deliver health supplies to remote locations in the poorest countries. The Associated Press is using artificial intelligence to help write news stories. 3-D printers are being used to produce replacement parts—for both machines and humans. There is a major German business initiative spearheaded by BMW to increase the use of 3-D printing in the automotive industry. AT&T has a broad worker-training program and, in collaboration with Udacity, is offering online nanodegrees in data analytics and other digital tools. Siemens is one of the largest providers of vocational training in Germany, with a focus on topics such as data analytics, software development, and data security.

Marvelous new technologies that automate work promise higher productivity, greater efficiency, more safety, flexibility, and convenience. But they are also stoking fears about their effects on jobs, skills, and wages. A 2019 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 48% of Americans think that automation has mostly hurt workers, and 76% believe that inequality will increase if robots and computers perform most of the jobs currently being done by humans. In the EU, according to a 2017 survey published by the European Commission, 74% of citizens expect that robots and AI will destroy more jobs than they create. The primary concerns among workers and citizens are about both the quantity and the quality of jobs. Will there be enough jobs for workers seeking employment? Will the available jobs have wages that provide meaningful livelihoods for workers and their families? What can companies and policymakers do to alleviate the costs and share the benefits of the new technologies broadly? 

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Author: 
Publication date: 
September 1, 2019
Publication type: 
Journal Article
Citation: 
Tyson, L. (2019). The Future of Work in Germany. THE BERLIN JOURNAL, 33, 15–21. https://www.americanacademy.de/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/BJ33_RZ_190925-FINAL.pdf