Side note: Transformation requires reconceptualization

Accepting future,
then seizing it

Companies are undergoing a stress test. Two factors, in particular, are pushing both organizations and employees to their limits: A lack of trained professionals on the one hand, and a profound shift in the working world on the other. Both of these factors threaten Germany's competitiveness and innovative capacity. We have looked for unusual ideas and approaches, and asked people from academic and practical backgrounds who are not satisfied with simply describing the problem.


 The pace of change and pressure to change are growing in almost all industries, and there is a danger that many employees may not be able to keep up, or their skills may no longer be needed in the future. At the same time, recruiters report receiving fewer and fewer applications, and more employees who will be retiring in the foreseeable future. Gaps in the workforce represent lost opportunities, and increasing pressure for remaining workers.

New skills? Yes, but ...

HR managers need to ensure the ongoing development of their workforce to fill in gaps at least partially, or help workers take on new duties. One core question is to determine what skills will actually be in demand in the future. Many companies are wrestling with this question, as a survey conducted by Staufen AG confirms. When asked what challenges they face in workforce management, HR managers answered, among other things, that their companies were unclear what forward-thinking requirements profiles looked like for employees in the age of industry 4.0 (59 %). They also said they were lacking knowledge about employees’ talents and special skills  (39 %).

Companies need to get away from the idea that they can name or teach long-term developments and skills, and work on a “near term” basis to a certain degree. It is more important to support employees so they can handle changes better. Transversal skills are becoming more important in this context, in combination with specific personal characteristics. These are skills that employees can use in different contexts, like IT knowledge or process knowledge. Soft skills like the ability to cooperate, self-management or the willingness to learn are just as important; they make it easier for employees to adjust to changing circumstances.

Christina Schulte-Kutsch

„We want to give all employees an opportunity to understand what is changing”

Christina Schulte-Kutsch, Senior Vice President Talent & Organization, ZF Group

Many shifts are occurring – where do they all lead?

The transformation is felt differently in each industry and in each company. However, one thing holds true across all of them: Companies that understand what is changing can confront changes more easily. Christina Schulte-Kutsch, Senior Vice President of Talent & Organization at ZF shares this viewpoint. The global technology group is undergoing a transformation, as is the entire automotive industry. ZF has launched a major qualification initiative designed to deliver knowledge and expertise on forward-thinking technologies. However, the first step is primarily about building a broad knowledge base. “We want to give all employees an opportunity to understand what is changing and what areas of knowledge will be critical for success in the future for their current jobs” explains Christina Schulte-Kutsch. “In this way, we get them excited about change, so that they can then start qualifying for new duties through targeted re-skilling programs.” This is a mammoth project, as the group has around 165,000 employees worldwide. Christina Schulte-Kutsch talks about the project, its goals, and factors for success.

Interview with Christina Schulte-Kutsch