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Examples from Practice

New Opportunities in Times of Digital Transformation for Future-Oriented Professions

Text: Directorate-General Digital Transformation of the World of Work, Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

Digital transformation and rapid technological progress are changing the world of work in fundamental ways. But there are examples of how professional reorientation can be successful in times of digital transformation.

Simone Hinz, who is 56 years old, has experienced career changes and reorien­tation more than once in her professional life. She learned her first trade – exhibi­tion designer – in a small retail business. After her training, she had to leave that business and worked in different printing houses. She also trained as a rotary printer while working. However, technological changes also affected the printing industry. The branch of the company where Ms Hinz worked was shut down. She and other employees became part of an outplacement service company and then she started looking for a job.

The printing industry has seen profound structural changes over the past 20 years, and the changes are still ongoing. A reduction in the number of newspapers, supplements and catalogues printed has led to the closure of many printing plants and to the loss of jobs. The profession of rotary printer no longer exists in its previous form. Its job description has adapted to the modern world of printing and is called “media technologist”.

Ms Hinz had to start over. She decided to learn a new profession. After 27 years in the printing industry, she wanted to stay in the technical field and has been training to become a professional technical product designer since 2018. Due to the difficult employment situation in the printing industry, her advisor at the Federal Employment Agency thought it made sense to provide support for a new vocational training programme. It was important to him that Ms Hinz be able to build on her previous professional experience and her thorough understanding of technical processes. In addition, her high level of motivation also played an important role because in the case of retraining supported by the employment agency, the regular training period is reduced by one year and thus lasts two in­stead of three years. This places increased demands on the participants.

„Ms Hinz is one of many examples that show how professional reorientation can succeed in an era of digital transformation.“

Retraining to become a technical product designer begins with 15 months of schooling with an educational institution, followed by 10 months of practical training in a company. After working for so many years in her professional life, Ms Hinz finds it challenging to deal with the learning process again and it demands a great deal of stamina. She is completing the practical part of her training at a company: Jensen in Harsum. There, she creates technical drawings for laundry machines and custom-made products for industrial laundries. Simone Hinz likes her new job. If she successfully passes the final exams, she can receive a further training bonus of € 1,500 from the Employment Agency as a reward. Ms Hinz is one of many examples that show how professional reorientation can succeed in an era of digital transformation. She is certainly also a role model for others.


Enjoying to learn: after 27 years in the printing industry Simone Hinz enjoys her new professional path as technical product designer. Photo: Stefan Othmer

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