Schwerin, 08.05.2023 – For a good five years now, the number of first-year students in engineering sciences has been falling significantly in Germany. “This is a major problem,” warns Prof. Jens Wulfsberg, president of WGP, the association of leading professors of production science, on the occasion of the spring meeting last week in Schwerin. “Because this not only affects 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 conduct half as much research. Of course, this also affects our industry, which already has great difficulty finding well-trained young people. And so it’s ultimately a problem for our society, whose prosperity, as we know, is founded on manufacturing.” It was therefore no coincidence that the WGP (Scientific Society for Production Engineering), as the industry’s leading scientific association, made recruiting and promoting young talent a top priority.
The WGP members therefore decided on initial measures and released funds to, among other things, get more schoolchildren interested in the so-called MINT subjects. “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 knows. 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.
Germany’s only resource is becoming scarce
In addition to the demographic development, Schaupp saw an additional problem in the fact that knowledge was being lost to foreign countries because companies were opening new plants beyond German borders for competitive reasons. “In Germany, we have only one raw material, and that is people and what is in their heads,” he warned. That resource is now becoming precariously scarce.
“The development of our country and thus our prosperity depend significantly on the so-called MINT subjects,” states Prof. Hans-Christian Möhring, spokesman for the WGP’s Science Committee. “We will now actively develop concepts and measures to tackle the problem. Young people do not even know how diverse the activities of an engineer are. Above all, they are usually unaware that engineering in particular 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 Möhring.
Concept emerges in the summer
The 42 renowned WGP research institutes offer the best conditions for a top-class education, but also for a first practical insight into the possibilities of putting modern values into practice in this industry 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 all the more broad-based, nationwide campaign. The WGP has already made contacts, and a first date for the development of a concept will be set in the summer.
Cover Image: Technology also belongs in the classroom, Source: AdobeStock_361380083-Gorodenkoff
Image 2: Prof. Jens P. Wulfsberg, President of WGP, Head of the Manufacturing Technology Laboratory (LaFT), Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg, Source: LaFT Hamburg
Image 3: Prof. Hans-Christian Möhring, Spokesman of the WGP Scientific Committee, Head of the Institute for Machine Tools (IfW), University of Stuttgart Source: IfW Stuttgart