The number of first-year students in engineering sciences in Germany has been falling significantly for a good five years. Prof. Jens Wulfsberg, president of the WGP, warned the association of leading professors of production science on the occasion of its spring meeting. It is therefore not surprising that the WGP (Scientific Society for Production Engineering), as the industry's leading scientific association, made recruiting and promoting young talent a top priority.
"This is a big problem. Because it doesn't just affect our university institutes, some of which - if the trend continues - will only be half the size in a few years and will only be able to do half as much research. Of course, this also affects our industry, which already has great difficulty finding well-trained young people. And so it is ultimately a problem for our society, whose prosperity is known to be founded on manufacturing," Prof. Wulfsberg explained.
In order to get more students interested in the so-called MINT subjects, among other things, the WGP members decided on initial measures and released funds.
"The problem has already reached the companies, the lack of young talent is one of the biggest challenges for many, bigger than the energy crisis and supply chain bottlenecks," Wulfsberg said.
Dr. Jörg Schaupp, head of the Airbus site in Stade, could only confirm this. During his keynote speech, he emphasized that the shortage of skilled workers was causing the "biggest headaches" at Airbus. In the next twelve months, the Group could hire 1,000 engineers. However, Schaupp did not know where the candidates would come from.
Resource of expertise
Since many companies are opening new plants beyond Germany's borders for competitive reasons, Schaupp sees an additional problem, besides demographic development, in the loss of knowledge to foreign countries. The resource of knowledge in Germany would now become alarmingly scarce.
"The development of our country and thus our prosperity depend significantly on the so-called MINT subjects. We will now actively develop concepts and measures to tackle the problem. Young people don't even know how diverse the activities of an engineer are. Above all, they are usually unaware that it is engineering in particular that picks them up in their modern values and their goals for sustainable change in our society. In these professions, they can actively develop solutions that will enable us to create an intact environment for future generations without having to sacrifice our prosperity," says Prof. Hans-Christian Möhring, spokesman for the WGP's Science Committee.
Summer as the time for concept development
The 42 renowned WGP research institutes offer the best conditions for top-class training, but also for a first practical insight into the possibilities of putting modern values into practice in this sector and developing solutions that are relevant for the environment and society. The professors see the fact that other players have already set themselves similar goals as an advantage. This would allow them to cooperate with interested associations as well as partners from industry and politics and launch an even broader, nationwide campaign. Contacts have already been made by the WGP, and a first date for the development of a concept is scheduled for the summer.