Jobs of the future – discussions at the BVL conference

“Digitalization meets Reality”: That’s the slogan of this year’s BVL conference. And indeed, the companies attending are presenting a wealth of digital solutions and services. There can be no doubt: Germany’s logistics companies have long been in a state of digital upheaval. However, the question of how digitalization is influencing jobs in the industry (from dispatchers to drivers) is not really being answered here either.

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The issue is driving the industry forward. Digitalization is all well and good, but what does it mean for our jobs? Longstanding, successful business models and working methods are being put to the test. How is digitalization changing the working world of logistics? And what does modern training look like? Working digitally and agilely – this raises questions about the skills of managers and employees. How can the requirements in the process of change and for new business models be implemented with the existing workforce?

New job profiles

In the forum titled “Brave New Working World?”, representatives of various companies and the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) discussed the job profiles of the future. Simon Grupe of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) pointed out how complex the subject of training is. “Which digital skills will people need in the future?” he asked. According to a survey by the DIHK, half of the companies surveyed were unable to determine the content or specifics of the consequences of digitalization for the qualification requirements of their employees. At best, it’s clear what constitutes digital skills among employees: the ability to communicate, self-management, critical evaluation, and collaboration.

Simon Grupe, DIHK

“Half of the companies are unable to determine the content or specifics of the consequences of digitalization for the qualification requirements of their employees.”

Using the examples of three job profiles, Grupe explained how the Chamber currently reacts to new training requirements. For example, as of this year, there is a new occupation that requires training: the e-commerce businessman. “The old job descriptions don’t fit anymore,” said Grupe.

There’s new content in metal and electrical occupations. However, they would have to be formulated to be open to new technology in such a way that training will still be up-to-date in ten to twenty years. And then there are the IT professions that have been around for about 20 years. Content would be reformulated here too. In doing so, it is important to integrate new content and not simply attach it to existing content.

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Cultural change in the companies

The companies found the DIHK’s approach too slow. Markus Köhler, Senior HR Director for Microsoft Germany and Member of the Management Board, spoke of a true cultural change in his company. “We hire employees based on their potential, with less emphasis on what they did previously,” said Köhler. This allows employees to react quickly and flexibly to new requirements in their areas of activity.

Christoph Mangelmans, Member of the Management Board of Fiege Logistik Stiftung, emphasized the necessity to involve employees in digitalization processes in order to help them develop further professionally.

“#DLK18: Germany is way ahead of the rest of the world in terms of training. But how can digital skills be taught? Or is the training system at a tipping point?“

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Finally, Dr. Kerstin Höfle, Head of Technology Management at Körber Logistics Systems, asked whether it would would be better to leave the training to the companies to make it possible to react to digital change better and more quickly.
This was, however, rejected by all participants in the audience. It may be the case that the industry is suffering from a shortage of skilled workers, and logistics jobs requiring training are not very attractive when compared to other jobs. But nobody seriously wants to shake the proven German training system, with its often well-qualified graduates.