demographics workplace

Demographics and

the Workplace



fix pump retire
invest common apprenticeship
staff replace demographics
wonder workforce one in ten
rival maintain keep a close eye
struggle top-notch guarantee
decline competitor seek/sought
pose migrate dramatic
rely train (2) craftsman
pass on generation mass-produce
wisdom transfer up and coming





Eberhardt Vogt retired three years ago. But then his firm, KSB, but him back on the job: the company is having problems with one of its pumps. And the 68-year old has the experience to fix it.

KSB hopes Vogt’s story won’t become common in the future, as its workforce ages.

That’s why the pump maker is investing so much in its apprenticeship program; it’s currently training over 50 young apprentices; that’s one in ten employees at its factory in Hale.

KSB has created the program to replace all the staff who will soon be retiring, says HR manager Petra Fischbeck. She keeps a close eye on the firm’s demographics.

Petra Fischbeck, KSB Personnel Director: “If we don’t succeed in maintaining a skilled workforce here, then we will no longer be able to guarantee the quality of our products.

And we won’t be as competitive. And if we don’t do so, then buyers will start wondering which companies do have the workers they need. Who has the staff to make top-notch products?”

And that’s why staff like Christian Sahre are so sought after. Sahre just finished training at the top of his class.

He was immediately offered a position at KSB.

Christian Sahre, KSB Machinist: “This is one of the best employers in Hale. You’ll struggle to find anywhere to rival this. And it’s competitors are much further away, so I wasn’t interested.”

Hale is typical of many parts of eastern Germany: low birth rates and migration to western Germany have led to a dramatic decline in the number of younger people.

And that is posing problems, especially for small businesses.

Ingrid Weinhold is the managing director for an engineering firm here.

She has trouble finding the right young employees for her company.

When she hires someone, she invests in training.

One of these guys is studying to be a master craftsman. The other is taking a master’s in mechanical engineering.

And both are also learning on the job, from their older colleagues.

Ingrid Weinhold, MABA Managing Director: “Our products are not mass produced, and that means each day is different.

Our employees have to pass on decades of experience with clients and production to the younger generation. And that takes time.

And that’s why it’s so important to start that transfer that knowledge as early as possible.”

Here in MABA they have long relied on the older generation to bring out the best in the firm’s up and comers.

And they are not the only company to recognize that wisdom comes from experience.

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1. Is Eberhardt Vogt (the 68 year old) a normal employee? What happened to him?

2. What kind of company is KSB? What does it produce?

3. The HR manager is keeping a close eye on demographics. What does this mean? How is KSB solving its demographic trend?

4. What will happen if KSB does not have an extensive apprenticeship program?

5. Describe the demographic situation at Hale. Is it easy to recruit new workers there?

6. Does Christian Sahre have an easier time finding work than a university graduate?

7. What happens when MABA hires new employees?


A. At what age do workers normally retire? What happens after? What do they do after they retire?

B. Do companies in your city and country have difficulties hiring skilled, qualified workers?

C. Describe the demographic situation in your city and country.

D. What is the solution to the situation? Should the retirement age be lifted or abolished?

E. What will happen in the future?


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