Education and Innovation

Education and innovation are deeply intertwined. Multiple studies have demonstrated the importance of education and training for the innovative capacity and performance of businesses and entire economies. As a country with only a few natural assets, Germany relies heavily on its ability to innovate from an economic and social point of view. We approach and analyse the subject from different angles:

Securing skilled labour in times of demographic change
Education and skill level of the workforce are important determinants of how successful businesses are in terms of innovation and therefore also constitute a measure for the competitiveness of national economies. Demographic change has a decisive impact on education and innovation since significant changes in the structure of age cohorts pose new challenges to the infrastructure of education systems and labour markets. In the future, a global and interdisciplinary perspective on education, innovation and demographics will continue to gain importance.

Innovation Indicators
We engage in analysis, design, applicability and improvement of indicators that help to examine the innovative capacity of countries. On the basis of such research fundamentals, countries can be compared with each other and the foundations of their innovative capacity can be determined. Education indicators play a central role. It is important to further develop concepts and indicators for knowledge creation and knowledge matching in a way that helps make the effects and mechanisms of education – in schools, colleges and at work – more graspable and comprehensible, thus enhancing the understanding of the relationship between education and innovation. In line with this, conceptual and methodological shortcomings should be determined and corrected and data gaps identified and closed, especially in collaboration with other organisations and institutions.

Technical education and diversity
The topic of technical education and diversity refers to Germany’s status as a technology-oriented industrialised country. Against this background, technology-related innovations and thus education in natural sciences and technology are of particular importance. Accordingly, the degree of technical and scientific education is a relevant indicator for innovation in international comparisons and observations. For instance, it measures the number of graduates in science and engineering disciplines. Unlike discussions in various communities suggest, only little systematic knowledge and few reliable studies are currently available in Germany – in particular regarding the aspect of diversity.

Permeability of the Education System
Highly-qualified specialists, managers and executive personnel ensure Germany’s prosperity, which is rooted in a knowledge-based economy. Continuous training and further education of citizens that may last up to retirement from active working life (and possibly beyond) build the foundation for this system of expertise. Well-trained academics and vocationally-trained qualified professionals are in high demand as baby boomers retire from professional life. In order to respond flexibly to these circumstances, the education system must be transparent in all directions and at all levels and allow for access, change and advancement throughout one's lifespan. Under the generic term of "permeability", we conduct our research in the following issue-areas:

  • Improving transition from vocational training to higher education (and vice versa)
  • Increasing access to higher education
  • Recognition of educational attainment and experience in higher education courses
  • Development of new teaching and learning approaches as well as modern study models and learning methods to meet the needs of working people – and their employers

The final objective is to develop a better, more sound evidence base for the purpose of policy consulting and in order to take political action.

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