German wages are among the highest in the World, only second to a few Nordic economies (with a rather similar socioeconomic model). This holds in particular true for Germany's manufacturing sector. The famous Mittelstand, with its often highly specialized as well as internationalized firms, also offers total compensation packages at the highest international level. This has only been possible with a commensurate level of productivity and innovation, at firm level. In order to thrive, those firms therefore have to work at the technological frontier. That is why their response to the new environment of high-volume, highly unstructured data is of the essence. Big data and Arbeit 4.0 are code-words for changing basic conditions. They spell challenges as well as opportunities.
Jörg Asmussen, Undersecretary in the German Ministry for Labor and Social Affairs, and a former Board Member of the European Central Bank, is one of the Berlin policymakers shaping the German government’s policy on these issues. In his talk he will outline how the he sees these challenges. But he will in particular stress conditions for making use of opportunities arising – including top-notch education, a cooperative interaction between employers and employees as well as a resilient public sector infrastructure.