On April 25, 2022, AmCham Germany hosted an Insights Webinar in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy Berlin for this year's Transatlantic Innovation Week on "Demographic Trends and the Labor Market."
Our speakers, Prof Dr. Claudia Müller, Professor at the Kaleidos University of Applied Sciences Switzerland and Deputy Professor for "IT for the Aging Society" at the Institute of Information Systems at University of Siegen, and Bradley Schurman, Founder and CEO of the global research and advisory firm, The Super Age, and author of THE SUPER AGE: DECODING OUR DEMOGRAPHIC DESTINY, provided insights on a variety of topics.
Mr. Schurman started his remarks with the thesis that the person who will reach 150 years of age has already been born. Scientists are currently making breakthrough discoveries on ways to enhance health and repair cells. Decreasing birthrates and increasing longevity will have an enormous impact on society and business.
Ms. Müller laid emphasis on the fact that we need to focus on a more inclusive approach to technology. She pointed out how poor IT designs are not geared towards the needs of elderly people and how this reduces the possibility of the elderly to engage in life-long learning. She also highlighted that society needs to work towards strategies of reducing or eliminating ageism.
Due to declining birth rates, we do not only need to encourage people to stay in the workforce for longer, but we also need to adjust our social welfare systems. What is already foreseeable is that the generational burden sharing agreement might not work out for much longer and new solutions are necessary. Since one of the biggest problems is mobility in the elder age, remote work might be able to by-pass the commute and thus making it more attractive for elderly to further engage in the workforce. Further, new ergonomic solutions need to be included in the future of work. Additionally, we should prepare ourselves much earlier for an extended working life. In fact, the reduction of working hours really is a product of the 20th century.
Last but not least, the pandemic has led to a change in attitude towards work. Purpose is the new buzzword and businesses need to adjust in order to attract professionals. Not finding suitable applicants already is an existential threat to companies - a development that is set to intensify over the next decades. Therefore, concepts for keeping experienced employees in the workforce for as long as possible are urgently needed.
Thanks to our speakers and our participants for a lively debate.