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According to the German Federal Statistical Office, Germany's population will be 75 million by 2050 – around 7 million less than today. The German Economic Institute puts the figure even lower at 72 million. The critically important aspect of this decline is that there will be fewer young people. The number of Germans aged 65 and over, on the other hand, has been growing for years. Consequently, competition for skilled labor will intensify, as will the need for education and professional development. Digitalization will alter and give rise to new types of jobs and industries, but it will not make humans redundant. It will, however, create a need for new skills and expertise that enable humans working in smart factories to perform new roles as strategists and decision-makers.

Skills shortages have been a problem in industry for years. Companies and industry associations have been working hard to get young people interested in STEM subjects and technical careers and to help them into their first jobs. But their efforts need to be stepped up further, as do the corresponding government initiatives. Key action areas for companies include boosting their attractiveness as employers, long-term planning of their HR requirements, talent development and targeted recruitment.

However, their focus should not just be on young people. The demographic change facing most western countries will also make it necessary to motivate older people to stay in the workforce for longer, which, in turn, will require appropriate re-training and upskilling. Policy tools to help alleviate demographic challenges include creating an environment that facilitates the change from part-time to full-time work, subsidizing education and training for highly skilled professions, and ongoing professional development.

The world needs change, and industry is a bringer of change. That is why the lead theme of HANNOVER MESSE 2020 is Industrial Transformation. The subject of demographic change will feature prominently at the show’s numerous forums and conferences as well as the exhibition stands. HANNOVER MESSE’s central platform for discussion on the megatrends of climate change, digitalization, individualization and demographic change and the challenges and consequences arising from them is the Transformation Stage in Hall 25. There, on each day of HANNOVER MESSE, leading figures from industry, science and wider society will address the big issues and challenges of our times with courage, passion and hard-hitting honesty.