The electrical engineering and electronics industry is multi-faceted. It covers not only electrical household goods and consumer electronics, but also cutting-edge branches of technology such as nanotechnology and chip production. But key technological advances such as the integration of digitisation into production processes or microelectronics – referred to in Germany as “Industrie 4.0” – are also of huge economic importance. The electrical engineering industry mostly consists of small and medium-sized companies. The industry’s product portfolio is both very broad and extremely dynamic, generating 40 percent of its revenues with new products and innovations. More than 20 percent of the industry’s workers are engineers, and a further 60 percent are skilled workers who have completed at least one course of vocational training.
Export as a growth driver
In terms of employment, the electrical engineering industry is Germany’s second largest industrial branch, generating revenues of €166 billion in 2013. In 2012, production output amounted to €143 billion and the industry expects further growth in the future. In this context, foreign trade is extremely important. In 2013, export volumes accounted for €158 billion, of which two thirds were shipped to industrial nations. However, newly industrialised countries have also discovered the value of German electrical products, and the share of export to these countries has experienced considerable growth in the last few years.
Research: looking towards the future
Particular in the emerging markets of Asia and South America, energy efficiency is an important aspect of technology which is relevant for both business and environmental reasons. German companies have considerable research competence in this area. Every year, the German electrical industry invests a total of €13 billion in research and development. This accounts for about 20 percent of all R&D spending in the German economy.