As a growth driver, digitalisation is changing the world of work

There is currently a great deal of discussion and analysis of the idea of digitalisation as a growth driver. Information and communications technology (ICT) is driving an upswing in Germany, with many new job openings. The new vocational profiles also offer great opportunities to skilled workers in developing and emerging countries.

Digitalising the world of work means – first and foremost – growth. In a study by BITKOM, the 'voice of the IT, telecommunications and new media industry in Germany', the numbers speak for themselves: the more the use of ICT increases, the more the German economy grows. In 2012, digitalisation generated around EUR 145 billion in Germany.

Digitalisation of the world of work also means 'Industry 4.0', i.e. that the economy is facing the fourth industrial revolution, and that production, IT and the internet are growing together more and more. Increasingly, machines are communicating with each other, as are warehousing and logistics. And thanks to ICT they are operating largely autonomously.

New occupations in the digitalised world of work

At the same time, digitalisation of the work of work is leading to a major change in occupations. Digitalisation has created some 1.5 million jobs. The range of new occupations and professions emerging under the overall heading of digitalisation is virtually beyond comprehension. Physically strenuous jobs in production are increasingly rare, as machines, robots and IT are taking over many tasks. In the process, jobs are becoming more demanding, and demand for specialists (particularly specialists in IT and with programming skills) has never been greater.

Programming machines and plants is done by computer scientists/engineers. Vehicles are increasingly controlled electronically, and need specialist automotive electronic engineers. For their part, the machines have to communicate with people. The Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich has developed a graduate course for this, 'Human-Computer Interaction'. Finally, the social media manager is becoming more and more important in communicating with customers. BITKOM found in a survey that one in ten companies in Germany has employees dealing specifically with activities in Web 2.0.

The changing world of work and opportunities for developing and emerging countries

Siemens' Industry Journal takes a look at the world of work in the future: Entire business processes are already supported by digitalisation, and this will increase in future, simplifying access to information for employees wherever they may be in the world. Multicultural teams are being assembled for specific projects. Employees are being given more responsibility – they no longer simply carry out orders, they plan, control and operate whole production processes. In 'smart factories' there will be less mass production and more individualised products.

Companies are increasingly acting globally at locations which are far apart. The German software group SAP, for example, employs developers in Bangalore in India, Marquardt, which manufactures switches and switching systems, has production facilities in Tunisia and employs young Tunisian engineers. Business process outsourcing (BPO) was only made possible in the first place by digitalisation. Entire processes are being outsourced, very often to Asia. As the Asien Kurier writes, the Philippines are now one of the centres for BPO worldwide. For example, Bosch Communication Center opened a call centre in Manila in 2010.

Digitalisation: enormous potential for skilled workers

According to a study by the consulting firm Roland Berger, experts estimate that in 2030 there will be a shortage of some 50 million skilled workers in the European market alone – not only in IT, but particularly many in this sector. Companies are seeing that the developing and emerging countries have great potential for offering skilled workers. The study also shows that 'well trained women in emerging countries offer enormous potential in the global talent pool'. In the United Arab Emirates, for example, 65 per cent of university graduates are female, which compares with 60 per cent in Brazil and 47 per cent in China. 'Companies which make optimal use of the tremendous potential of excellently trained women will ensure a clear competitive advantage in the international market.'

In its study 'The Future of Manufacturing' management consultants, Deloitte Consulting predict  that companies will in future locate where they are most likely to find suitable and highly qualified employees.

Digitalisation as a growth driver: facts and figures

The power of ICT for growth is demonstrated in 'Monitoring-Report Digital Economy 2013' with some impressive figures: every worker in the ICT industry contributes some EUR 100,864 to gross value added in Germany. Another interesting study is by the consulting firm Booz & Company, whose 'Global Information Technology Report' shows (among other things) that digitalisation has a measurable effect on economic growth and job creation.

Community discussion on digitalisation as a growth driver

Do you agree that digitalisation is creating new and qualified jobs, and that this boosts the opportunities for developing and emerging countries? Are you perhaps working for a company in a virtual team? Discuss this with us and other alumni in the comments below and show us what your digital working life is like.

Author: Sigrid Born

June 2014

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Sipho Bhengu
8 July 2018

Hi Sigrid

Thanks for sharing this insightful information on Digitisation. I am busy with my Research Proposal on Digitisation and Telecommunication networks.

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