Opening statement by Dr. Siegfried Russwurm at the panel discussion ‘Capturing Talent’ at the Munich Economic Forum on June 6, 2008
Siemens is active in over 190 countries, and we have a good overview of the availability of talent in the various economic regions. Worldwide, we employ around 420,000 people (status on March 31, 2008), including 240,000 in Europe. In Europe, we hired approximately 26,000 new employees in the past fiscal year.
In some countries, especially Germany, it is proving to be a major challenge to recruit sufficient numbers of engineers or technicians. In some areas, this shortage has become a bottleneck for our business activities – and we are talking about shifting our development activities elsewhere, not for cost or market reasons, but simply because we can’t find enough qualified developers here.
This situation can have negative long-term consequences for the economic region of Europe. If politics and business do not succeed in a concerted effort to develop the right strategies, companies will increasingly be forced to shift jobs – and above all, ever more highly qualified jobs – to other economic regions. We cannot afford to lose any time, because once these jobs have left Europe, they won’t come back.
My point is: We need a People Excellence Initiative for Europe:
We must qualify more young people for university studies and attract as many of them as possible to technical studies and professions. Europe’s only chance for securing sustainable prosperity and full employment lies in innovations – and they can be fostered only where the necessary know-how is available. This is the case for top research and is particularly true for various highly qualified positions in high-tech companies.
Our priority in Europe must be to develop the potential of as many people as possible and use it. This means, above all, that we must appropriately educate and train our youth, that we must encourage women to better utilize their potential, and that we must motivate people of all ages to embrace life-long learning. We are gradually beginning to realize that we cannot afford – financially and socially – to send people with an average life expectancy of 80 into retirement in their mid-50s.
And if these measures were supported by an unbureaucratic immigration policy for highly qualified people, it would double the positive effect.
We must give up the idea that non-Europeans should be happy if they can work and do research in European countries. That is a mistaken belief. The fact is that we now have to seek and compete for the best and brightest people from around the world, and they don’t simply come running to us.
And don’t believe that we can attract these highly qualified people with money, Green Cards or Blue Cards alone. They will want to come to us only if they find exciting challenges, if Europe proves to be a pacesetter in innovations, and if they have opportunities to develop their potential. It must be obvious to all that there is no reason why these high professionals shouldn’t participate in our societies with their families – and enjoy the benefits of full integration.
With this in mind, we welcome the goals set in Lisbon to specifically support education and innovation. The great challenge facing us now is to take the necessary actions as quickly as possible.