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South Westphalia: Industrial Powerhouse With Demographic Challenges

By Ankita Tripathy

October 31, 2023

Germany's industrial powerhouses

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South Westphalia holds its own as one of Germany’s industrial powerhouses, characterized by impressive figures and a respectable growth rate. Nevertheless, dark clouds are appearing on the horizon, particularly with regard to the region’s demographic development.

Industrial Dominance In South Westphalia

In the midst of this industrial boom, many are wondering whether it is possible to have a successful career in South Westphalia. In fact, the region records over 43% of jobs in manufacturing, well above the national average of 28%. Industrial turnover also paints an encouraging picture: Last year, South Westphalia recorded growth of 12.2%, compared to 10.9% for NRW as a whole.

Another indicator of South Westphalia’s industrial strength is the high share of gross value added attributed to the manufacturing sector. At 44 %, this figure is significantly higher than the NRW average of 27 %. In addition, there has been a pleasing increase in employment subject to social insurance contributions. Over a period of ten years, from 2011 to 2021, the number of employees rose by an impressive 63,000, which corresponds to an increase of 12.5%.

Demographic Trend Brings Concerns To Labor Market

Despite these positive economic metrics, there are worrisome demographic trends. Over the past ten years, the population of South Westphalia has declined by nearly 47,000 people or 3.3%. In comparison, the population in NRW increased by 80,000 or 0.5% and nationally by as much as 1.7%. The region is seeing a declining share of younger adults between the ages of 20 and 49, while the share of those over 50 is rising.

Stephan Häger of the Siegen Chamber of Industry and Commerce emphasized the urgent need for location policy decisions to address the impending shortage of skilled workers. The declining labor supply, combined with demographic change, could prove to be a significant obstacle to continued economic growth in South Westphalia in the coming years.

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Future Dialog For Workforce Recruitment Set The Tone

As early as 2022, the question “How did we want to live and work in the past?” took a central role in the future dialogs for South Westphalia. At that time, Südwestfalen Agentur and the South Westphalian Volksbanks had continued the initiative. The objectives of these dialogs were multifaceted. The aim was to throw different perspectives on the subject, present positive examples from the region, provide fresh impetus and promote new approaches. One of the main focuses of the dialogue on the future on June 02, 2022 was on entrepreneurial perspectives.

The challenge of filling vacant positions with qualified specialists was becoming increasingly clear to many companies. They recognized that adjustments were necessary to meet the changing expectations of their employees, especially with regard to flexibility of work location. In the context of REGIONALE 2025, the first Future Dialogue 2022 focused on the experiences of companies in South Westphalia. The focus was particularly on the views of young people, those with multiple places of residence and work, and creative professionals temporarily based in South Westphalia.

Companies such as EJOT, Infineon, ensun and Hering-Bau shared their perspectives on these issues. They discussed the extent to which housing options played a role in job interviews and which offers appealed to young professionals and their teams. In addition, the “Krombacher Wohnen” project was presented by the Krombacher Brewery. This cooperation with business and housing concepts seems to be bearing its first fruits. After all, unemployment figures in the region remain at a low level.

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Ankita Tripathy

Ankita Tripathy loves to write about food and the Hallyu Wave in particular. During her free time, she enjoys looking at the sky or reading books while sipping a cup of hot coffee. Her favourite niches are food, music, lifestyle, travel, and Korean Pop music and drama.

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