On May 12, the Leadership Connect program continued with a visit to the Kaiserslautern-Pirmasens Employment Agency, one of 150 employment agencies nationwide with nearly 600 locations. The participants were welcomed by Markus Metz, department head for career and study counseling, and Oliver Busch, team leader for career and study counseling, who provided an informative insight into the work of the agency.
After a brief overview of the responsibilities of the employment agency and the job centers, it quickly became clear what challenges the agency has to face. One topic was clearly in focus: the shortage of skilled workers - not the first time that this topic came up in our Leadership Connect series.
The emergence of the shortage of skilled workers can be explained as follows: First, young people start working later. They first want to take time off to travel, take a year abroad or do a voluntary social year. More people can afford this today than in the past. Another aspect is the trend toward attending school for longer in order to obtain a higher degree. In addition, the work-life balance is much more important to employees today than, for example, earning as high an income as possible. On the other hand, demographic change plays a major role. The birth rate continues to fall, and people are generally getting older. This can also be seen in the following figures: 25.7% of all employees subject to social insurance contributions are older than 55.
In order to address the shortage of skilled workers today and in the future, it is essential to attract and develop potential. For example, by specifically employing immigrants or refugees in occupations and positions where there is a need, or by starting career guidance for young people early enough. To this end, employees of the Employment Agency visit students in schools as early as the 8th grade to give them various career prospects.
Changes are often necessary, but not always easy to implement: "You can change, but you don't have to," says Mr. Busch with a smile, referring to the willingness of employees to change in the change process. As the American participants can confirm, an extensive administrative system makes some things more difficult, such as implementing changes. It was particularly interesting for the participants to learn that the Covid-19 pandemic actually brought about a positive change for the organization of the Employment Agency: Through the introduction of an online meeting tool, which had not been used before, some processes could even be accelerated and communication among each other improved. In addition, there are numerous online services that were already introduced in the Federal Employment Agency before the pandemic and are constantly being further developed.
The visit ended with an exchange of leadership experiences. In general, the understanding of leadership at the agency has changed significantly in recent years due to various factors, such as the changing labor market: It is now based on the idea of "two-handed leadership," which means simultaneously managing day-to-day business and shaping the future according to the situation. However, the flat hierarchies and relatively small teams in the agency would help to better communicate leadership methods and goals.
But what is it like from today's perspective when you look back on the mistakes you made at the beginning of your leadership period? The answer was clear: You don't regret them, because you learn from mistakes and develop as a person - and this in turn gives rise to a certain authenticity that you need as a leader.
We sincerely thank the Employment Agency Kaiserslautern-Pirmasens for the reception and the interesting exchange!