Germany and digital skills
In many respects, Germany is regarded as one of the most advanced countries in Europe, with a strong economy and a good education and training system.
It is therefore surprising that in the Digital Readiness Index 2019, Germany ranks last in the EU27 for digital skills and investment in digital learning.
One of the problems for which Germany is so far behind in the ranking is the inadequate digital infrastructure: Germans pay on average more than other European citizens pay for an Internet connection, but receive a worse quality.
Other problems are the poor digital skills of teachers, who struggle to pass on the necessary skills to pupils, a general scepticism of the population towards digital technologies, the high expectations of Germans regarding data privacy and insufficient and late investment by public authorities.
The lack of ambitious public investment also has consequences for the level of digitization and innovation in industries.
In order to remain a leading country on the European scene, German policymakers need to implement strategies for the rapid digitalization of the economy and society in general. It is what Germany is aiming to reach with the ten points of the Digital Agenda 2025.
German creative industries: sector overview
The cultural and creative industries (CCI) play an important role in the German economy. In 2020, around 1.2 million people were employed in the CCI in Germany. In 2018, the sector’s total turnover exceeded 100 billion euros, thus surpassing the chemical industry (50.6 billion euros) and the financial services sector (75.2 billion euros).
CCIs are not only important for their contribution to the German GDP, but also for their role as an innovation driver for the whole economy. It is in this sector that innovative approaches are often adopted and then transferred to other industries (thanks to the ability of CCIs professionals to think out-of-the-box).
The various CCI sub-sectors have been affected differently by the Covid-19 crisis. While the film, museum and music industries have suffered heavily, with turnover losses of up to 75% in some cases, the same cannot be said for the gaming industries and companies that managed to digitise their offerings before Covid.
Initiatives to digitise CCIs are therefore necessary for two reasons:
– to make these industries competitive in a post-covid landscape, where digitisation of CCIs will be the new norm
– to influence civil society’s approach to digital technologies, contributing to increasing the digital literacy of the German population.
German federal initiatives for innovation in cultural and creative industries
Aware of the role that cultural and creative industries play, Germany has implemented several initiatives in recent years to promote innovation in this sector.
Initiative Kultur- und Kreativwirtschaft
In 2007, the German federal government launched the Initiative Kultur- und Kreativwirtschaft (Initiative for the Cultural and Creative Industries) coordinated by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in cooperation with the Federal Ministry for Culture and Media. The aim of the initiative is to make the sector more competitive and foster the job creation. In particular, the initiative aims to promote innovation of small businesses and self-employed.
As part of the initiative, the Kompetenzzentrum Kultur und Kreativwirtschaft (competence centre for cultural and creative industries) was set up in 2009. The task of the Competence Centre is to make the cultural and creative industries more visible, to communicate their cross-sectoral potential for the economy, society and politics, and to develop solutions to challenges together with stakeholders.
Currently, the competence centre also plays the role of facilitating the recovery of companies in the sector that have been challenged by the Covid-19 crisis, informing through the kreativ-bund.de platform about the possibilities of financial aid and ongoing projects.
With this initiative, Germany supported in particular small cultural institutions in the development of digital offerings with a total of 11 million euros. A jury decided on the selection of the 300 institutions to receive funding nationwide. Funding was available for institutions from all sectors, including remembrance culture, theatre and modern dance, art education, photography, music, museums, film festivals, jazz clubs, literature education, pop culture, socio-culture and inclusive cultural projects. The digital projects selected for funding include, for example, the development of augmented or virtual reality applications, interactive streaming of events, participatory museum tours or the programming of apps.
In the first funding round of the programme Dive In, promoted by the German Federal Cultural Foundation (Kulturstiftung des Bundes) 68 cultural institutions were supported in the development and implementation of digital offers. Another funding round is foreseen in 2021, with around 21.3 billion euros available.