"Give the new a chance"

Ralph Linde, Head of the Volkswagen Group Academy, on "Workforce Transformation" and corporate culture in the context of digitization

Successful digitization requires a change in corporate culture

Mr Linde, again and again, it is said that employees should be open to new tasks. Why?

Digitalization in our industry is changing the world of work. New technologies have done this before, but today it is happening faster and on a larger scale. Most skilled trades will change as a result of digitization, and work in the office will also be affected. As in the past, we will continue to build up the knowledge required for this with further professional training. But there will also be activities that will be discontinued. It is agreed in the Pact for the Future that employees who perform such activities will be qualified for new tasks in areas of the future. This is what we mean when we talk about workforce transformation. And these new tasks require openness and a willingness to learn.

Nevertheless, some people are afraid of change.

That is understandable, but the changes do not come overnight. We will accompany people on their way. They will have time to change with the change, but not forever. They must give the new a chance – and use the opportunities. This means being open to change and looking forward to learning something new. With this attitude, everyone can play their part in ensuring that the Volkswagen brand has a good future.

Changes do not come overnight

How will further training and qualification change as a result of digitization?

Digitization also affects our educational work. We are increasingly developing digital content and formats, such as online seminars. To implement new concepts for learning and teaching, we have also set up an Education Lab in Wolfsburg as a think tank. We are currently using virtual reality glasses from Wolfsburg to train employees all over the world in how to operate robots. And I never tire of pointing out that digitization does not only affect technical skills. The successful handling of digitization also requires social skills. It is changing the way we work together, and we must above all change our corporate culture. That is why we have launched many initiatives to create a culture that makes successful digital work possible.

Experts have been saying for years that employees have to learn for life. Is this wisdom truer today in the automotive industry with all its changes?

Of course! A change in this speed both in the technical and in the social area is extraordinary. Just look at the half-life of knowledge: in some areas, it is extremely short compared to the past. That’s why we all have to keep learning, and there’s a good thing about it: learning is exciting and keeps the mind fit. And, on the other hand, it opens up new doors behind which many opportunities await.

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