Anyone who wants to feel the dynamism of the global economy should come to Tuttlingen. More than 400 companies with approximately 8,000 employees make the town with 35,000 inhabitants in southern Baden-Württemberg the "global capital of medical technology". It is here that global market leaders such as Aesculap AG, the KLS Martin Group or die Karl Storz GmbH & Co. KG have been developing and manufacturing implants, surgical instruments or OP systems for the whole world, in some cases for more than 100 years. In total, Tuttlingen provides as many as 22,000 jobs – this makes it one of the strongest economic regions in all Germany.
However, dark clouds are forming over the Upper Danube Valley. They are not being caused by declining global demand. On the contrary, there is more worldwide demand than ever for quality products from Tuttlinger. Rather concern is spreading about a trend whose impact will be felt far beyond the borders of Baden-Württemberg and which is likely to permeate and completely change the entire global economy over the next few years and decades: Digitalization.
For while products and services such as smart phones or social media have already resulted in a major change to our private lives over the last ten years, business is now only in the early stages of the digital revolution – with the corresponding challenges for companies and employees. "On the one hand, the increasing digitalization of the work processes presents great opportunities for innovative companies and qualified employees," says Dr. Guido Zimmermann, the responsible analyst at the Research-Department of Landesbank Baden-Württemberg (LBBW). "On the other hand, the digital transformation is one of the greatest challenges Germany has ever had to face - both at a state and a corporate level." According to calculations from the Institute for Employment Research in Nuremberg, by 2025 every seventh job will be lost as a result of automation (to read the whole study as PDF click here). This figure is even higher in regions dominated by manufacturing. For example, for Tuttlingen the Institute for Employment Research calculates that every third job could be substituted as a result of digital technologies.