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Industrie 4.0

The middle class underestimates its digitization opportunities

The shortage of skilled workers already costs German SMEs around 65 billion euros a year. To make matters worse, many companies have no time for consistent digitization strategies.

19 Jun. 2018
The middle class underestimates its digitization opportunities (Chart: PricewaterhouseCoopers GmbH )

As part of an investigation by the testing and consulting company PwC , around 70% of the 371 German medium-sized companies and family businesses surveyed stated that the search for qualified workers is “difficult” or “rather difficult.” The problem already has tangible consequences for economic growth and accounts for an annual profit loss of about 65 billion euros in SMEs alone. While the shortage of skilled workers represents the biggest growth risk for the European average of 43% of the 2,450 companies surveyed across Europe, it applies to 60% of all German family businesses and medium-sized enterprises. The German education system is one of the main reasons. According to 35%, it does not produce the workers needed. As a comparison, in Switzerland, only 1% of respondents share this assessment. The escalating bureaucracy and, in comparison to the rest of the EU, worse national regulations and insufficient broadband expansion comprise additional hurdles according to the German SMEs.

Another obstacle is homemade, however. Only 38% see digitization as a key growth strategy, while the relative majority are more likely to expand their own product and service portfolio (43%) and accelerate domestic revenue growth (40%). Nevertheless, 62% of German companies rate their overall economic situation as being good. However, faced with full order books, the industry runs the risk of missing the connection. According to a recent Bitkom study , the high degree of utilization is accompanied by a lack of time that is simply not available for developing comprehensive digitization strategies.