How many civil engineers have changed their careers

Digitization: the changing world of engineering

She is a network activist, author and recently founded the company: Anke Domscheit-Berg is one of the leading women in the digital scene in this country. In an interview, she talks about what engineers can expect in the working world of the future.

engineering careers: a third of those under 30 fear losing their job as a result of digitization, says a new study. Panic or foresight?

Domscheit mountain: For people who are likely to work for another 40 years, that's a realistic statement. But that does not mean that they will never find a job after they have lost their jobs. However, you may need to re-qualify.

For example, continue studying.

Yes, anyone who is 30 today, or who has completed an apprenticeship or degree, should not give in to the illusion that they have finished learning. In the future there will always be phases in life where learning has top priority. Where people drop out of work for half a year or a full year in order to acquire new skills. There are studies according to which two thirds of all primary school students today will later work in professions that do not even exist today. So in the future, other qualifications will also be required.

Other professions will disappear for it.

For example the driver. 700,000 are employed in this profession in Germany. It is not needed in autonomous vehicles. And we experience this development not only on the road but also on the rails, where locomotive drivers are decommissioned. In the transport sector alone, around one million jobs will be lost, both directly and indirectly.

What does on sight mean?

We are at the beginning of an industrial revolution that is going like a Gaussian curve. It rises very slowly at first, then exponentially. This is where we stand now. The pace and extent of change that awaits us is dramatically underestimated. The internet has only been around for about 30 years. And yet it has fundamentally changed the way we communicate and work privately.

What does this mean for the job market?

Digitization and automation will turn labor markets upside down and revolutionize the demands placed on our education systems. More than ever, it will be important that people acquire skills other than just accumulating bare knowledge. It will be crucial to acquire new skills again and again, to react flexibly, to validate information, to see things in their contexts and, above all, to think in an interdisciplinary manner.

Why this?

Because there are more and more professional tasks that can only be solved in an interdisciplinary manner. Think of robots in healthcare, in laboratories, operating rooms, in nursing and assistance, this is the future. This then requires people who are familiar with medical and social science issues but also understand something about robotics. There are still far too few specialists for this interface.
We currently have 43 million employees in Germany. How many jobs are lost - for example due to 3D printing, the use of robots, autonomous vehicles?
Nobody can answer that seriously. All studies on this ultimately look into the crystal ball.

But tendencies are emerging.

Yes, of course, there are studies on this as well. AT-Kearney speaks of 17 million jobs at risk in Germany in the next 20 years. Office work in the broadest sense is at the top of the list. So capture data, write texts, translate, bookkeeping. Jobs in sales, gastronomy or delivery services are also part of it. But many lawyers and bankers can also be replaced by artificial intelligence.

And 3-D printing will find its way into production.

Yes, if a printed car consists of 49 instead of 5000 parts, you will need fewer employees in assembly. When it comes to vehicle construction, there is also the fact that fewer and fewer people want to own their own car. In future, the focus will be on the use and no longer the ownership of vehicles. 80% of all vehicles could already be taken out of service today without reducing our level of mobility.

Are there more or fewer jobs on balance?

In the previous industrial revolutions, in the end there was at least the same, if not more, employment. It will be different with the innovation cycle that we are now experiencing. There are studies in the US that have looked at how many jobs are being created in the new sectors of the economy. That was 8% of total employment in the 80s, 4% in the 90s, and then only 0.5% in the 0s. That means the number of new jobs is clearly decreasing. At the same time, as I said, a lot of traditional activities are being dropped.

Bad news for engineers too.

Like all Mint professions, engineers are still in the best place. However, it is also true for them that the requirements are changing rapidly. Engineers should therefore be very alert and observe their own professional environment closely. Already during your studies you should position yourself broadly.

But the exact opposite happens in engineering. It is becoming more and more special, ever narrower.

Specialization and interdisciplinary knowledge are not mutually exclusive. Both is important. In software development, for example, there are more and more specific requirements that students have to adapt to. Otherwise they are out of the question for certain projects. In the long term, however, it is advantageous to position yourself more broadly during your studies, e.g. to take a completely different subject. This improves the chances in various fields of application.

How are working conditions changing for Mint graduates? Some fear an army of academic me-ags competing among themselves as freelancers.

It shouldn't be that blatant. But there will be more freelancers and a lot more fixed-term contracts. This tendency is evident in many companies.

The permanent position is becoming an exception?

There is a lot to be said for it, even among Mint academics. There will be a base of permanent employees who have excellent working conditions, great canteens, kindergartens, company pension schemes, etc. And next to that an army of second-class employees with temporary contracts. They have fewer rights and fewer guarantees. They are usually not granted any special social benefits or other benefits. This system can already be found in many large companies today.

In addition, there are freelancers who compete for projects around the world.

Yes, platforms like freelancer.com already have 20 million members from 250 countries and regions. The platform knows neither minimum wages, nor labor law, nor vacation. For many it offers opportunities, for others it is competition at dumping wages. And this business model will also continue to spread in the mint sector.

Aren't the states required to set minimum standards?

Naturally. It is a task for politics to better regulate gray labor markets. Social standards must be agreed internationally, as is the case with child labor, for example. But far too little is happening here. This is due on the one hand to the fact that parliaments lack competence in questions of the future and awareness of the problem, but also because such agreements are extremely difficult to achieve across national borders. Some things make little sense, like an identical minimum wage for engineers in Germany and in Sierra Leone. The living conditions are just too different.

What can trade unions and works councils do to prevent new forms of exploitation?

I also give lectures to trade unions. When I sketch the working world of the future there, I usually look into horrified faces ...

Is that a terrible scenario for trade unionists?

Naturally. If you lose your job, you are usually no longer a union member. And robots don't strike. Crowdworkers are also not organized. At least not so far. I can only hope that unions will become more active to ensure better working conditions. They have become clairaudient, but not much more has happened yet.

Doesn't sound like a bright future for employees ...

I don't paint a dystopian threat scenario at all. I don't think every job is worth preserving as long as the social challenges are properly resolved - which I think is possible. The future offers more opportunities than ever, especially in the mint sector. There has never been a better time to start your own business. People who are now in training do not have to hire themselves out as crowdworkers below their value. You can also start your own business.

Why good times for founders?

Look at the energy production. There used to be three or four dominant corporations. The times are over. In a few years, every house will meet its own energy needs. There will be a very close-knit, decentralized network. Other large industrial displays will follow this pattern. For example automobile production. Today we have VW and Daimler-Benz. In the future there will be more companies like Local Motors that produce a few thousand vehicles a year in many mini-factories for regional markets. Local Motors already has a location in Berlin.

Why are newcomers taking off?

Because it is much easier to enter the market today. Today you can set up vehicle production for a few million euros. A few years ago you needed at least a billion euros. The barriers to entry will continue to fall. Many business ideas no longer require large financial resources.

What does that mean for large companies?

They have bad times ahead of them. They won't go away, but their economic power will decline. When you see how the major automobile manufacturers overslept the subject of e-mobility, then one can only be amazed. Many large corporations remind me of the Titanic. Like their captain, they see the iceberg far too late. And her ship is too big to steer now.

To person

Anke Domscheit-Berg was born in Premnitz (Havelland) in 1968. The daughter of a country doctor and an art historian holds a. a Masters in European Business Administration. After holding positions at Accenture, McKinsey and Microsoft, she became a freelance consultant in 2011.
A few weeks ago she and her husband founded ViaEuropa Deutschland GmbH. In cooperation with the Swedish ViaEuropa Sveridge SA, the company is committed to the faster spread of municipal fiber optic networks.

 

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