But we can enjoy such benefits only if we also invest in education. Even as technology races forward, we have to keep one point clearly in mind: Our economic systems cannot function without well-educated people.
Joaquin, a 29-year-old Chilean, according to himself, has made it: He has an excellent job, lives a good life with his family – and can ensure that his children get a good education. This is one of his top priorities. And it is easy to understand why: Joaquin’s very own life has shown him that education is the true key to the future. It is a lesson that applies to every individual and our economy as a whole. In this regard, major challenges lie ahead.
I got to know Joaquin at the opening of the new DHL Express headquarters in Santiago de Chile. He is one of the IT specialists working in our new high-tech logistics center. In talking with him, I realized once again that political leaders and the business community must move to the fore and promote efforts aimed at ensuring economic growth and creating stability and prosperity. Companies need qualified employees. Otherwise, we cannot move forward. This is the case for Europe, just as it is for countries in Asia and Latin America that will become major forces in global economic growth in years to come. For many emerging countries, better access to education and a higher level of education may even become issues crucial to their very survival.
I think Chile clearly shows how a country can develop and what the conditions for this evolution can be. The country’s comprehensive integration into world trade creates tremendous long-range growth potential. In the years to come, experts expect to see a steep rise in the international transportation of goods in Chile. In addition to continuous investment in infrastructure, the foundation of this growth will be good school systems and access to education.
The international transportation of goods has almost become a feature of our globalized world that we simply take for granted, even though many trade barriers remain in place. Free trade agreements represent a further way of opening doors for the world economy and the opportunities associated with it. Free trade agreements lower costs in areas that contribute nothing to value creation, including customs, and they can create jobs. This is an opportunity for every country to invest in the education of needed workers. This is not just the case for Asia and Latin America: Technologically speaking, we have already achieved much in European industry and business. But we still have not really tapped the potential we could enjoy if we were to strengthen education on all levels. It is a potential that we must tap because our companies are working in a world that increasingly demands more attention to detail and more knowledge.
This is not just an issue that involves college graduates. It also applies equally to skilled workers. In this regard, we need to look no further than the MINT subjects (mathematics, information technology, natural sciences and technology): Today, Germany has about 2.4 million MINT college graduates and 9.4 million MINT skilled workers. The Cologne Institute for Economic Research says a shortage is developing particularly in these occupations. In other words, the country needs industrial mechanics, qualified IT specialists and chemistry lab technicians. By the end of the decade, a shortage of up to 1.4 million employees who specialize in the MINT areas could develop – experts needed by the German economy. The future of our economy is at stake. A comparison with other regions reveals that these locations have already moved ahead of us in many areas. In the end, it all boils down to quality of life. To maintain these standards, money must be invested in these societies, especially in education.
I believe that, in addition to political leaders, the business community can play a role in spearheading these efforts. This begins with creating training opportunities in the companies themselves and extends to the promotion of education projects in emerging countries. With the GoTeach program, Deutsche Post DHL has developed its own action plan to improve the educational opportunities of young people and enable them to learn occupations in a systematic manner and to lead independent lives. We work with organizations in 21 countries, including Argentina, Chile, Peru, India, Vietnam, Ghana and Kenya as well as in Germany.
We believe this work must have two goals: improve educational opportunities and individually prepare young people for the world of work. It is self-evident that this effort must be directed not only at Germany, but also at the underdeveloped countries of the world. For years now, globalization has meant that we must think in terms of being global citizens.
If we want to create and maintain high standards of living, our mandate must be to launch an education initiative on all levels – in the political and business communities as well as society as a whole.
Deutsche Post DHL has just released its 2013 Corporate Responsibility Report. It includes much more information about the Group’s commitment to education.