23/10/2017

Industry profiles

Germany's leading industries

Increasingly attractive career opportunities are opening up for international skilled workers at companies located in Germany. At the same time, Germany’s export-oriented economy remains very stable. A major contributing factor here is the German Mittelstand – Germany’s small and medium-sized enterprises. Employing some 15,7 million workers and accounting for around 55 percent of Germany’s total economic output, the Mittelstand could be called the engine of the German economy.

A good 99 percent of German companies are part of the Mittelstand. Four out of every five trainees go on to be hired by these companies. The German training system not only guarantees a high quality of training; it also contributes towards meeting companies’ needs for skilled workers.

Attractive employers are looking for qualified staff

Germany’s strong tradition of research and innovation is also a major contributing factor in the positive economic situation. With over 32,000 patent applications, accounting for more than 12 percent of the applications filed at the European Patent Office, Germany is at the forefront of European innovation.

In order to maintain these positive trends in the economy and the employment market, it will be important for companies to be bolstered by well-trained professionals. However, certain industries and regions are already experiencing a shortage of qualified professionals. Learn more about these industries here.

Health and care

Health, care and support for those dependent on care are topics that affect everyone. This is also reflected in the number of staff working in these sectors. With 5.2 million employees and revenues of €300 billion in the core area in the year 2012, the healthcare sector is among the largest and most dynamic sectors in Germany’s economy, according to the Federal Statistical Office. When the secondary healthcare market – comprising all privately funded products and services and their expansion into other sectors – is also taken into consideration, the economic significance of the healthcare sector proves even greater. The regular introduction of new and innovative products and services makes the industry one of the strongest-growing employment sectors. The healthcare sector offers services and products that are linked to maintaining or restoring health. These include the services of medical professionals, products related to medical technology and the pharmaceutical industry.
Physicians

Germany is characterised by an excellent health system. One reason for this is that Germany places a major emphasis on extensive medical training and regular further training programmes. The level of healthcare provision in Germany is also high when viewed in international terms. On average, there is one doctor available for every 230 residents. Some 357,200 employed physicians work in a wide range of institutions. These include well-equipped hospitals affiliated with cities, churches or organisations; university hospitals; private practices and clinics; prevention and rehabilitation centres; and pharmaceutical research labs.

Interestingly, the number of employed physicians in Germany with a migrant background has more than doubled in the past ten years. The number was around 35,893 in 2013. Of the newly registered physicians in Germany in 2013, around 30 percent were of foreign background. Still, the need for physicians will continue to increase due to demographic change and technological advances. According to data from the German Medical Association, there were 5,500 positions for physicians in Germany that could not be filled in 2011.
Caregiving professionals
Health and care

Without well-trained caregivers, a functioning health and care system would be unthinkable. Health, nursing, paediatric and geriatric caregivers make a considerable contribution to society. They are responsible for caring for patients and care recipients in over 2,000 hospitals and more than 12,400 care facilities and services.

Caregiving professions are becoming increasingly popular. In the autumn of 2011, some 52,500 young adults nationwide began their training in a caregiving profession. Still, there remains a tremendous shortage of workers in this field. Due to demographic change, an even greater number of caregivers will be needed in the coming years.
Health and nursing professionals

The job description in the health and nursing field comprises the independent observation, consultation, support and care of patients in an in-patient or outpatient setting. Additionally, it includes the documentation and evaluation of caregiving measures as well as carrying out doctor’s orders and providing assistance during medical procedures. At the same time, health and nursing professionals serve as a point of contact for patients’ relatives.

The task of health and paediatric nursing professionals consists of caring for infants, children and adolescents who are sick or dependent on care. This includes recognising needs and providing assistance based on the child’s stage of development, as well as supporting relatives during critical situations. Members of the paediatric nursing profession primarily work in the neonatal or children’s ward of hospitals, or provide outpatient paediatric nursing care outside of hospitals. They also work in paediatric clinics and other special facilities for children.

The past years have seen an increase in both the number of students training in the health and nursing field as well as the number of those training in the health and paediatric nursing field.
Geriatric nursing professionals
Geriatric nursing professionals

Receiving proper care in one’s old age is an essential human need. That’s why professional geriatric nursing – along with personal care at home – plays such an important role in Germany.

The geriatric nursing profession is characterised by close interaction with individuals who are dependent on special care or assistance. It is demanding and diverse. The area of long-term care, in particular, offers many opportunities for development, various fields of application, and very promising employment prospects. Geriatric nursing is one of the service industries currently experiencing particular growth. The number of geriatric nursing professionals increased by 78 percent between the years of 1999 and 2009, reaching some 200,000. During the same time frame, the total number of workers in the area of long-term care increased by around 42 percent to some 900,000 workers, according to nursing care statistics from 2009. In view of demographic change, the demand for qualified geriatric nursing professionals is steadily increasing. Already today, for every 100 job vacancies for geriatric nursing professionals, there are only 47 applicants seeking employment (Federal Employment Agency, Bottleneck Analysis, June 2014). There are currently around 2.5 million individuals dependent on care. This number will continue to increase over the coming decades.

IT and telecommunications

Whether the MP3 or the first fully automated computer by Conrad Zuse – innovative talent has a long tradition in Germany’s ITC sector. And it continues to shape the sector even today. In fact, the German ITC sector is considered one of the most innovative in the world. The revenues speak for themselves. With recent figures showing revenues of €228 billion for the year 2013, the German ITC market is the world’s fourth-largest.
IT and telecommunications
Pioneers of innovation

Around 12 percent of the current international patent applications in the field of ITC have been filed by German companies. The US and Japan are the only countries that have filed more applications. Innovations in the ITC sector represented some 13 percent of Germany’s total innovation expenditures in 2010. Measured in terms of revenues, the sector spends two and a half times the amount on innovation projects as the average expenditures of the German economy, according to a study by the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) and the industry organisation BITKOM (pdf). Germany also hosts the world’s largest IT trade fair, CeBIT, each year. This venue brings together more than 4,000 exhibitors representing some 70 countries.

Since the innovations from other industries are also based to a great extent on information and communications technologies, the ITC sector also drives growth and inventions in other industries. Around 40 percent of the companies in Germany introduced innovations in 2010 which would not have been possible without information and communications technologies.
Good prospects for IT professionals
Good prospects for IT professionals

The some 915,000 people employed in the sector work in the areas of information technology (IT), telecommunications, and consumer electronics. With revenues exceeding €74.7 billion, information technology held the largest share on the German ITC market in 2013, followed by telecommunications with €66.1 billion and consumer electronics with €12.5 billion.

Providers of information technology, telecommunications and Internet services are the second-largest employer in the German industry – behind the mechanical engineering industry, but ahead of the automotive and electrical industries. In a recent survey conducted by the industry organisation BITKOM, 64 percent of the companies indicated their intention to create additional jobs. However, they do not always find the qualified workers they need in Germany. Thus, the number of job vacancies for IT specialists has recently shown a marked increase.
Technology in international demand

Chances of being able to work in a leading international company are favourable. Many businesses are a step ahead of the competition in terms of their technology. As a result, products and services from Germany’s information and communications technology sector are in particular demand outside of Germany. Exports have increased rapidly in recent years. While exports in the field of ITC services amounted to €8.6 billion in 2004, this figure had already increased to €18.7 billion by 2012. German-made ITC hardware and consumer electronics accounted for €29.2 billion in foreign exports in 2012.

Aerospace engineering

Research in the German aerospace industry is an important component of Germany’s reputation as a centre of industry and technology. The industry bundles various strategic key technologies related to the exploration of the Earth and the solar system, research for preserving the environment, the development of environmentally compatible technologies for increasing mobility, and the areas of communication and security. With its 105,500 employees, the industry currently registers annual revenues of some €30.5 billion.
An expanding industry

The companies belonging to the industry are employers experiencing strong growth. The industry’s revenues in 2013 amounted to €30.5 billion – a 7.8 percent increase over the previous year. The field of civil aviation showed the largest share of revenue growth with 69 percent. The number of people employed in the industry also showed an increase of 4.8 percent, amounting to some 105,500 employees.
The important role of research

The German aerospace industry makes major investments in the areas of research and development. On average, companies in this industry invest around 17 percent of their revenues on these areas. The federal government supports these research activities through various programmes. Aerospace applications and research receive around €1 billion each year from the federal government, thus constituting the largest single area within Germany’s High-Tech Strategy. Besides the research and development carried out by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Germany’s membership in the European Space Agency (ESA) plays the largest role. Its support has contributed towards making Germany’s aerospace organisation the second-largest in Europe.

In the field of German aviation, the federal government supports research networks with the aim of achieving a competitive research infrastructure for German companies. The research emphasis in this area lies on the development of sustainable technologies for climate protection.

Automotive engineering

Germany and cars are connected by a long history. At the end of the 19th century, Carl Benz produced the first automobile. Today, Germany is the fourth-largest producer of automobiles worldwide, after Japan, the US and China. The automotive industry is considered the driving force of the German economy. The industry, which places a strong focus on qualifications, employed around 756,000 people in 2013 – including a high percentage of university graduates.
The number one export
The number one export

The industry serves as an instigator for many other industrial sectors. A large network of suppliers from the fields of mechanical engineering, metalworking, and the textile and chemical industries supply materials for the automotive industry and benefit from its large order volumes. The industry experienced a record year in 2011. According to the industry association VDA, Germany’s annual car production reached a figure of some 5.87 million cars that year – the highest number recorded in the industry’s 125-year history. With a number of 55.4 million produced cars this level could even be maintained in 2013.

 

The automotive industry’s annual revenues reached around €360 billion in 2013, an increase of 1.6 percent over the previous year. A large percentage of the revenues is attributable to foreign demand. Cars and car parts were the principal exports in the year 2011, with three-fourths of the German-produced cars being exported. Demand has particularly increased in countries such as China.
Cutting-edge research for the environment
Cutting-edge research for the environment

Companies in the automotive industry are distinguished by their high technological skill and innovation. After all, they have to survive in a dynamic market characterised by constant structural and technological change. The issue of climate change, in particular, is pushing German automobile manufacturers to constantly improve the environmental compatibility and carbon efficiency of their vehicles and to develop alternative engine types. An international comparison shows Germany as a clear leader in matters related to environmental technologies – especially the reduction of carbon emissions (as reported by VDA). According to VDA, German manufacturers are ranked “first place in the efficiency comparison”. With annual expenditures amounting to some €27 billion, the automotive industry spends more money on research and development than other German industries. Some 93,000 people are employed in the area of R&D, and around 10 patents are filed each day.

Chemicals and pharmaceuticals

The chemical and pharmaceutical industry is Germany’s third-largest industrial sector in terms of revenues. It produces a wide range of products, including fine chemicals, specialty chemicals, petrochemicals, inorganic chemicals, synthetic materials, agrochemicals and fertilisers, laundry and cleaning agents, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, paints and adhesives.

A world-class industry

With revenues of €186.8 billion in 2012, the German chemical and pharmaceutical industry is by far the largest European chemical and pharmaceutical industry as well as being the fourth-largest worldwide, according to data provided by the German chemical industry association VCI. Revenues from the chemical and pharmaceutical industry constitute nearly 11 percent of the total revenues in Germany’s processing industries. Furthermore, with a market share of over 11 percent, Germany was the world’s largest exporter of chemical products in 2011. The country exported chemical products with a total value of €160 billion.

According to VCI, over 90 percent of Germany’s more than 1,900 chemical companies are small and medium-sized enterprises. These companies are often based in one of the country’s numerous chemical parks. The outstanding infrastructure, combined with an interconnected system of raw materials and energy, enables companies based in these parks to remain competitive in their production.

Some 434,000 workers are employed in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. Many of them are graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. According to figures from the Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW), 126 out of every 1,000 employees in the industry are graduates in these four key fields, which are in particular demand in Germany.

Third place worldwide in the field of innovation

The chemical and pharmaceutical industry holds a strong position in the area of research. Its high number of innovations and wide range of products make the industry a major supplier for other industries. The industry’s estimated expenditures for research and development were around €9.6 billion in the year 2012, according to VCI. This positions the German industry at third place in an international comparison. In the year 2010, 77 percent of the companies in Germany’s chemical and pharmaceutical industry brought new products to the market. Some €13 billion altogether was invested in innovations. According to data from Germany Trade & Invest, Germany holds third place worldwide in the number of patent applications filed for chemical products. Germany is also among the top-ranking countries in its number of patent applications for pharmaceutical products. Innovations in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry are actively supported by the federal government’s High-Tech Strategy. Further information on the High-Tech Strategy 2020 for Germany is available here.

Medical technology

The demand for medical supplies is increasing around the world. This has helped the German medical technology industry to establish itself as one of the largest and fastest growing fields in the German health sector. The industry develops new technologies and medical products in areas such as clinical engineering, medical, X-ray and ultrasound imaging, rehabilitation, and regenerative medicine.
Wanted: Qualified staff

In the year 2013, companies from the medical technology industry produced revenues of around €22.8 billion. This represents a 2 percent increase over the previous year. A portion of these revenues can be attributed to the increasing worldwide demand for German-made premium products. The export rate was around 68 percent in 2013. According to data from Germany Trade & Invest, Germany’s medical technology market is Europe’s largest and the world’s third-largest. The industry’s predominantly small and medium-sized enterprises are regarded as leaders of innovation on the world market. In 2009 alone, the German industry filed 16,400 patents. Figures from 2012 show that nearly 15 percent of the industry’s employees were active in research and development, and around 9 percent of its total revenues were invested in this field.

Mechanical and plant engineering

Mechanical and plant engineering is one of the most important industries in the German economy. More than 6,000 companies employ around 964,000 workers – more than in any other industrial sector. In terms of revenue, mechanical and plant engineering is the second largest industrial sector in Germany. In 2012, the industry generated revenues of more than €209 billion.
Worldwide success
Mechanical and plant engineering

In 2012, the German mechanical and plant engineering sectors achieved volumes of more than €149 billion. This meant that German mechanical and plant engineering accounted for 16.7 of machinery traded worldwide, making it the world’s leader in the field, followed by Japan (11.9 percent), the US (11.5 percent) and China (10.3 percent).
Developing future technologies

The mechanical and plant engineering sector is the largest employer for engineers, employing 167,500 engineers in 2010. In addition, mechanical and plant engineering is one of the most innovative industries in Germany, setting standards in developing and applying future technologies. According to estimates by the Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW), the sector invested €12.67 billion in innovation in 2010, and 66 percent of mechanical engineering companies introduced innovations to the market. Correspondingly, automotive and mechanical engineering accounted for most of the applications filed at the European Patent Office in 2013. The industry’s innovative strength is also evident when looking at its research and development activities. In 2012, the industry spent more than €5 billion in this area.

Electrical engineering and electronics

The electrical engineering and electronics industry is multi-faceted. It produces not only electrical appliances, consumer electronics and lighting technology, but is also home to cutting-edge technology industries such as nano technology and chip production. The electrical engineering industry mostly consists of small and medium-sized companies. The industry’s product portfolio is both very broad and extremely dynamic, generating 40 percent of its revenues with new products and innovations. More than 20 percent of the industry’s workers are engineers, and a further 60 percent are skilled workers who have completed at least one course of vocational training.
Export as a growth driver

In terms of employment, the electrical engineering industry is Germany’s second largest industrial branch, generating revenues of €166 billion in 2013. In 2012, production output amounted to €143 billion and the industry expects further growth in the future. In this context, foreign trade is extremely important. In 2013, export volumes accounted for €158 billion, of which two thirds were shipped to industrial nations. However, newly industrialised countries have also discovered the value of German electrical products, and the share of export to these countries has experienced considerable growth in the last few years.

Research: looking towards the future

Particular in the emerging markets of Asia and South America, energy efficiency is an important aspect of technology which is relevant for both business and environmental reasons. German companies have considerable research competence in this area. Every year, the German electrical industry invests a total of €13 billion in research and development. This accounts for about 20 percent of all R&D spending in the German economy.

Steel and metal industry

The German steel and metal industry includes the steel, non-ferrous metals, foundry and steel and metal working industries. It is closely linked to other industrial sectors such as building and construction, the automotive industry, the electrical industry and mechanical engineering. As a basic industry, it develops new materials and intermediate goods, and thus contributes to the success of the process industries mentioned above which require a lot of steel and metal.
An employer with significant revenues
Steel and metal industry

As a result of its innovative capabilities and high-quality products, the German steel industry has established itself as a leading producer in the European Union. Around half of the production output is exported to other countries. The non-ferrous metals and foundry industries are in similarly good competitive positions. At a European level, the German foundry industry is the undisputed leader in terms of production. Regarding the global level, it ranks fourth after China, the US and India. Just like the other branches of the steel and metal industry, the non-ferrous metals industry has experienced rapid growth after the recent economic crisis. In 2013 the number of employees was with a total figure of 110.000 0.3 percent higher than in the year before and the production of 8 million tons exceeded the corresponding figure of the previous year by 2 percent. The non-ferrous metals industry expects a slight increase in production for the year 2014. In 2013, it generated revenues of € 46 billion. Overall, the industry employs 440,000 workers in 5,100 companies (2013). The metal industry employs a large proportion of university graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In 2009, this group accounted for almost 60 percent of all university graduates employed in this industry.
Research that benefits the environment

In addition to developing new products, the German metal and steel industry focuses on objectives related to the energy, raw materials and the environment. The industry places particular emphasis on further improving the use of recycled materials. Recycled materials now account for 50 percent of the material used in the production process.

Precision engineering and optics

The precision engineering and optics industry has evolved to be one of the most important German industries in terms of growth and future prospects. This hightech sector employs a total of 240,000 people in more than 900 companies, most of which are medium-sized. Their products are used in many different industries, such as electronics, IT or the health sector.
Worldwide demand
Worldwide demand

The success of the precision engineering and optics industry is evident when looking at the figures: in 2013, the industry generated overall revenues of €50,18 billion, an increase of 14 percent over the previous year. There is a worldwide demand for German products: in 2012, about 63,6 percent of optical and precision engineering technologies and products were exported. Apart from the countries of the European Union, the most important export markets are the US and China, with Russia and India increasingly gaining importance.
Optical technologies on the rise

The precision engineering and optics industry is very innovative and includes a large number of branches, for example optical technologies and medical technology. Optical technologies in particular have been on the rise, increasing their revenues by more than 16 percent in 2011. This also included technologies such as laser technology, optoelectronics, digital imaging or optical communications and measuring technology.

Even more jobs in the future

The optical technologies branch expects further above-average growth in the future. This is because there has been a lot of investment in research and development as well as close cooperation between large enterprises, LMEs and research institutions. The optics industry, which currently employs 120,000 workers, expects to create a further 20,000 jobs by 2015.

Energy and environmental technology: Pioneer in Europe

In Germany, the energy and environmental technology industry has been influenced by the political goal of ensuring that by 2050, 80 percent of the electricity produced in the German market will be generated from renewable energy. Ever since the federal government decided to turn off all nuclear power stations by 2022, the industry has been focusing on alternative sources of energy.

Wind power – Export success

The wind power industry is a relatively young industry. During the last few years, the use of wind power was established and expanded, creating more than 101,000 new jobs. Today, about 8 percent of all electricity used in Germany is generated by wind power. The export rate in this sector is 75 percent. Germany currently has about 23,000 wind power stations, and there’s more to come. During the next 20 years, wind parks are set to be erected in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.
Bioenergy – It’s the mass that does it

Bioenergy is becoming increasingly important in Germany. It is generated from organic material such as wood, but also from energy plants such as corn, which are called biomass. In 2011, the rate of energy generated from biomass increased by 9 percent compared to the previous year. In the same year, 91 percent of the heat produced by renewable energy sources came from biomass. According to Germany Trade & Invest, an association which promotes export and markets German as an investment location, the industry wants to make sure that by 2030, 18 percent of electricity and 15 percent of heat used in Germany will be generated from bioenergy.
Combined heat and power

Germany is a European leader of combined heat and power (CHP) technologies. In CHP, fuel generates mechanical energy and heat at the same time. This means that the heat generated as a by-product of energy generation, does not go unused. This industry has immense growth potential. This is because technically, it is possible to use CHP energy to cover up to 50 percent of the electricity demand. The federal government intends to promote the use of CHP, so that it will account for 25 percent in 2020, compared to 12.5 percent today. The overall aim is to improve climate protection.

Solar energy – A successful industry

Solar thermal energy: Solar thermal energy is a system which harnesses solar energy for heat generation. With 1.66 million solar installations in 2011, Germany is the largest solar thermal energy market in Europe. In 2011, the industry spent around €1 billion on investments in new installations which convert solar energy into thermal energy. The solar thermal energy industry currently employs 14,100 people (2011).

Photovoltaics: In photovoltaics, electrical power is generated from solar radiation. With a market share of over 50 percent, Germany is the world’s largest exporter of photovoltaic products. In Germany, leading research and development institutes, universities and producers of photovoltaic materials and installations cooperate closely to continuously optimize photovoltaic technologies and processes.

In 2012, German photovoltaic companies employed 100,000 people, generated revenues of €13.0 billion and invested around €11.2 billion into new installations.
Environmental technologies

Both fossil raw materials and the options for disposing of waste and residue of chemical production are becoming increasingly scarce. As a result, life-cycle management and sustainable water management are becoming more and more important for supplying the German economy with the raw materials it requires. These sectors apply intelligent environmental technologies and use resources in a sustainable manner: They thus contribute to ensuring that the raw materials used in the business cycle are used for as long as possible and in a manner that is kind to the environment. Germany is a worldwide leader in almost all sectors of environmental technology. In 2011 the companies in this industry employed about 370,000 workers. In 2030, Germany is projected to generate revenues of €1 billion in the environmental technologies industry.

Building and construction

The construction industry makes a major contribution to generating value and creating jobs in the German economy. Many other industries are linked to the construction industry, and as a result the construction industry serves as an economic driver to generate prosperity. With every Euro invested in the construction industry today, overall economic demand increases by more than two Euros. And the construction industry is booming: Every year, about 10 percent of the annual GDP are spent on construction projects. In 2013, this amounted to €270 billion. Through its subsidiaries and affiliated companies, the German construction industry is also successful abroad. For years, German building output at an international level has accounted for more than €20 billion annually.
A major employer
Building and construction

The construction industry includes the main construction trades and the finishing trades. About 73,000 companies, most of them small or medium-sized, are active in the main construction trades, offering shell construction and civil engineering services In the finishing trades, 244,000 companies mainly provide finishings, interior fittings and renovation services. With a total of 1.9 million workers, this industry is one of the largest employers. In 2009, university graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics accounted for 80 percent of the university graduates employed in the sector.
Environmentally friendly and future-driven

Against the backdrop of climate change, the German construction industry is increasingly focusing on environmental research. Optimising the energy efficiency of buildings and constructing in a manner that is energy-efficient and sustainable is a major focus in research and development. The German industry offers new solutions when it comes to developing new building materials and technologies. In addition, the German construction industry offers state-of-the-art innovations in the areas of digital planning and construction, and in the integrated use of IT applications in construction.

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