The new era of digitalization is changing manufactures as we know them
Germany is well known for producing goods. The country is mostly known for its automobiles, chemical goods and home appliances. According to a report of the German National Academy of Science and Engineering “22 of Germany’s top 100 small and medium sized enterprises are machinery and plant manufacturers with three of them featured in the top ten”. But as the use of smartphones is exponentially increasing (a 2014 report by the Economist Intelligence Unit indicated that by 2018, the number of smartphone users worldwide is expected to reach 2,8 billion) the global economy is shifting to a hyper-connected status. And with it, the report of the National Academy says, the global trends for manufactures are gradually changing.
In this new era, gathering data and using it to produce new online solutions will be more profitable than making products. The report indicates that is now possible to “network resources, information, objects and people to create the Internet of Things and Services”.
This network, IoT, will allow companies to turn products into streams of information, when micro-sensors placed on their packaging are scanned. As a result, businesses will able to enhance, correct and even create tailored goods for particular groups of customers and also to create stronger relations with them.
The “Internet of things and services” will bring the 4th stage of industrialization where a company would be able to design a product in one part of the globe and within few hours start making it, into its factory located in another country. In order to compete aggressively, large manufactures would have to create “open platforms” so their smaller and medium sized counterparts can build and sell online products on them. For these platforms to succeed all of their parts, manufacturers, developers and customers, would need to function in systemic way. There are several examples of successful platforms in consumer markets; the more apps people purchase the more data is generated and new online solutions can be created as a result.
This leads us to believe that even companies competing each other could end up inter-connected through products on open-platforms. Yet the mentality of German manufacturers along with the strict legislation about intellectual property shows that the creation of online applications based on shared information, might prove difficult. Moreover the prevailing business spirit in Germany, in comparison to American businesses, is risk averse, a distinct cultural element. The country’s young workforce lacks out-of-the-box thinking and risk taking, two skills highly valuable in the world of data.
Even though the prices of many products and particularly those of “smart devices” are declining due to the use of multiple networks by manufacturers. There are no signs that the end-users in Germany are properly informed about the use of their information. And whether finally, should this be a global trend, they agree to this trade off.
I often get contacted by companies who are looking for in-house German lessons for their employees. This is what I tell them, why they should look for a better solution than in house language lessons.
To be bluntly direct, in my opinion, most in-house German lessons are a complete waste of money and lifetime. They demotivate learners in the long run and your employees might end up with broken German which is incredibly hard to fix.
This article names the reasons behind this and offers a cost-sensitive solution based on the materials and services developed by smarterGerman.
LONG VERSION (MAX 10 MINS)
In-house German lessons are a often complete waste of money and (even worse) of your employees’ lifetime and motivation
(German) language classes in a group simply do not work no matter what size. This is due to the following reasons:
The Turtle and the Hare: Language learners are rarely on the same level which means that one is usually faster than the other. The faster learner has to slow down, the slower learner knows that the faster one has to wait for him. Or the slower learner has to race after the faster one. Either way not an ideal situation.
Bad Input: In a German learning group of 5 participants there is only one who speaks proper German: the teacher. That means 5 out of 6 times when someone speaks you hear bad German. And what goes in comes out.
Inefficient Correction: We don’t really learn from the language mistakes of others. The teacher can’t correct everybody all the time and if she does, she most likely corrects a mistake that the other participants wouldn’t have made as mistakes are strongly dependent on a learner’s background and learning psychology.
Immersion: Complex matters like the German grammar require clear and concise instructions in a language that the learner clearly understands. If your German tutor only uses German to teach German, you might want to consider changing to another provider as this approach is outdated since the 70ies. Watch this video for more information.
Homework: Homework is the essential ingredient to successful and rewarding German learning, because you only learn from constant repetition and use. Usually course participants are not given sufficient homework if any at all. This homework is rarely checked or valuable course time is wasted on homework checking that the participants could have done themselves if properly instructed.
Nobody seems to care about learner’s progress: A friend of mine is the head of a department in a big concern and said that while the language school they hired for language training protocolled the learners’ progress, no one in his company ever looked at that. I’m not even sure the learners themselves were shown these reports nor whether they were actually interested.
Missing Intimacy: Learning the German language is actually a very personal matter. One often feels insecure, dumb or simply vulnerable when trying to speak the new language. Those are all feelings one doesn’t really like to share with coworkers but they are a natural part of the language learning process and can be easily dealt with in a protected environment.
Missing Opportunities to Speak: In most international companies English is the working language. But even if one could communicate in German, at work things have to go smoothly. So there’s often not enough time to speak slow German. Either one is already fluent or one has to use English. After an 8-9 hour work day one is happy to head home and not spend another 90mins in the office even for such pleasant events like a German class. At home most learners also speak English or another language than German. Short: There is very little opportunity to practice one’s German even in real life. In classes there are opportunities but the topics one talks about are often artificial and generic. As a language learner, I always found role playing to practice dialogues embarrassing.
The Solution: How to help your employees learn German Efficiently
There are even more reasons that speak out loud against in-house language training in a group but in my opinion these are the key reasons. Now you might wonder what might be the solution to this quite delicate matter. Here is my suggestion in short:
Individualized Tuition in combination with blended learning
The key to many of the above issues is to provide employees with individual tuition combined with blended learning. While one on one lessons in German might seem more expensive at first glance, when looking at the desired outcome they are the only way to go. But you can still achieve good results with a lot less money than you might think.
Der Goldene Mittelweg
Most German learners do not need a German private tutor every day. All they need is some assistance and someone to practice their German with without having to be afraid of making mistakes.
Use smarter German Learning Materials and Learn to Learn
I suggest to use the smarterGerman Starter Kit (soon to become an online German course, ETA 08/2017) for your employees. This Starter Kit provides German learners with a solid and easy to adapt learning structure and easy to follow German learning materials. The German grammar is explained in simple and concise words in English and the accompanying exercises are intelligent and not predictable. Key to our material is that the German learner learns how to learn more efficiently. The majority of language learners is still applying language learning techniques from middle school.
I have developed a learning technique based on intensive study of learning patterns of hundreds of students. The aim of the Starter Kit is to make the learner independent of any teaching as soon as possible. With our materials learners can study whenever and wherever they like.
Work with a German Conversation Trainer
Most of the learning process can be outsourced with help of our online German learning materials. But the speaking needs to be practiced with a (near) native speaker. Unfortunately not many native speakers make good conversation practice partners. There are a few things that need to be considered. A conversation trainer needs to have knowledge of the learning method and needs to be able to correct sensitively and intelligently. She also needs to establish a good connection to the learner as that will help with her motivation.
Learning German can be quite overwhelming especially when trying to approach this task on one’s own. That’s why we offer dedicated learners weekly live Q&A sessions in which they can ask me, Michael Schmitz, the creator of smarterGerman, any question they like. Those weekly sessions are not teaching lessons. They are there to make sure that our customers know how to make the most out of our materials and have someone to refer to when they encounter a motivation low or struggle with a certain topic. Often it is just a little nudge that makes the difference between failure and success.
Cheaper than your Current System
With the above approach you will most likely pay even less than you currently pay for your language training but at the same time you will get a lot more individualized training for your employees which will lead to better German, higher motivation and happier employees.
Young people move to Germany in waves. The country’s economy is booming thanks to its exports and a declining euro.
The question though is, where to go? More and more people choose Berlin. In a recent survey about entrepreneurship in Germany, the Deutsche Startup Monitor, the German capital tops the list with the biggest share of employees from other countries.
More than a quarter of the city’s workforce, 33% to be precise, comes from abroad. Employers estimate that number will keep growing within the coming years.
That is for a number of reasons. But mostly thanks to the city’s talented and diverse workforce. Young people decide to move here precisely because Berlin is so open to international ideas and movements. Making it in a way, the least traditional German city.
It’s the city’s vastness giving young artists the space to create while encouraging young entrepreneurs to take a risk and start a company.
Others also favour the labor legislation, in comparison to laws of other German states, allowing for flexible working relations. Hence new companies can find the right people in the critical stage of beginning. Leading to a startup in Berlin averaging 3.5 employees just the first year.
A number of multinational companies also choose to relocate their European offices here, indicating lower labor costs than other EU markets.
Berlin is thus beginning to compete with other major startup hubs such as London and New York. In the European Digital City Index of Startups, Berlin came 7th while Munich ranked in 10th out of 35 cities.
Some of the famous startups that can be found here are;
Soundcloud. An online streaming service, which was found in Stockholm and later relocated to Berlin. Its users can upload, record and share their own audio while a big part of its content is podcasts and interviews.According to a Bloomberg article, the page boasted 150 million users by this summer.
ResearchGate. A social network for scientists, its users can write reviews on others’ research articles. The company has created quite a buzz when Bill Gates decided to invest in it. According to its Wikipedia page it has more than 7 million users.
6WunderKinder.The company has been acquired by Microsoft since last June for almost 200$ million. It is famous for the Wunderlist, a ask management, cloud based application, for free but with extra features in paid. According to its data it currently has 13 million users.
These companies are part of an “information economy”, having as products heavily researched and filtered data. In that way they produce software products in comparison to most of the heavy German industries producing hardware.
You will find a number of events about people looking to connect with others or hire them for their startup in Berlin every other week. We suggest you keeping an eye on Silicon Allee and Factory Berlin.
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