Brussels, 19 Nov 2004
Germany will face a shortage of scientists and engineers in the near future, claims a new report commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
The report, obtained by German newspaper, Handelsblatt, warns that this state of affairs presents 'a major threat to Germany as a location for innovation.'
Although the number of students has increased recently, this will not offset the effect of the 'retirement wave' in this sensitive area, states the report, pronouncing that the increased number of students is not even adequate to maintain the status quo.
According to the report's author, Hariolf Grupp from the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research in Karlsruhe, the problem will become increasingly apparent as the economy picks up again.
One of the main problems identified by the report is the fact that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are moving away from research and development (R&D). In the US it was particularly SMEs that were the driving forces behind state-of-the-art technologies in information technologies (IT), communications, biotechnology and pharmaceutical fields, areas in which the US is generally ahead of Germany, says the report.
In order to boost R&D in Germany, the report recommends that the federal government considers granting tax concessions. Indeed, states report co-author Georg Licht from the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) in Mannheim, while countries such as France and the UK had taken steps in this direction, 'Germany on the other hand is one of only three countries of the old EU15 that does not promote R&D through tax concessions.'
The UK, despite its flourishing economy, is facing a similar predicament, UK Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt has warned.
At the launch of the Department of Trade and Industry's (DTI) five-year plan for British industry on 17 November, Ms Hewitt said that the UK needs to attract more foreign talent if it wants to meet the growing economic challenge from countries like India and China.
The UK is set to submit proposals for attracting global entrepreneurial talent and academic expertise to the UK, she said. Furthermore, Ms Hewitt added, the UK government will establish a comprehensive policy towards the recognition of foreign credentials, so as to attract and keep foreign maths or science PhD students from a recognised university.