Transformation of production processes

In today's information society, the internet is the most important technology and the driving force of societal and economic transformation. In sectors using information and communications technology (ICT) as the platform for innovation, the meaning of the term "work" is undergoing fundamental change. Global connectivity is leading to problems of definition between work and leisure, between professional output and play. There are lasting changes as regards working conditions and qualification requirements in innovative business areas. As regards competitiveness, highly skilled staff, education and training as well as knowledge management are all playing an increasingly important role. There is already an appreciable shortage of qualified labour especially in the high-tech sectors -despite the high overall unemployment rate. In a knowledge-based society, the relationship between employees and employers is characterised by greater dynamic. Ulrich Klotz, member of the Board of the German Metalworkers' Union (IG Metall), has outlined the changes caused by the technological revolution as follows: "The work will still be there, but not the stable job. In the future, a job will come to be seen again as something you do rather than something you have"1.

In the post-industrial information society, work with material products has been pushed to the sidelines while digital goods and services have taken centre-stage. Today, two in five employees in Germany are using a computer for at least half their working day, and every third employee has access to the internet. Highly qualified jobs in the high-tech sector are increasingly becoming a driving force for economic prosperity. Technological innovation and economic growth are mutually reinforcing. Both are based on complementary investment in physical and human capital. For this reason, modern economic and structural policy is increasingly defined by educational measures.

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About the Author:

The author is working as Senior Economist at Deutsche Bank Research since 2000. His main responsibilities are the economic analysis of structural changes caused by innovative information and communications technologies. Before moving to Deutsche Bank, Dr. Heng worked in a Research Group of Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation). He was awarded a doctorate by the University of Mannheim in 2000 for his thesis about the economic impacts of road traffic in Germany. Dr. Heng is the author of several studies and essays. Amongst others he is affiliated as referee to the International Telecommunications Society (ITS), and as Young Leader to the Atlantic Bridge association.