Wiedeking: “The shortage of engineers is putting our ability to compete at risk” 244 Ferry Porsche Prize winners honored at the Weissach Development Center
Stuttgart. Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, Stuttgart, and the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Culture, Education, Youth and Sport yesterday honored the 244 winners of the Ferry Porsche Prize 2006 at the Weissach Development Center. This prize has been awarded to the top school leavers in mathematics and physics/technology at the general and vocational high schools since 2001. With this prize the two partners want to make their contribution towards increasing the appeal of scientific and technical subjects at high schools in the state of Baden-Württemberg.
In his celebratory speech, Dr. Wendelin Wiedeking, President and CEO of Porsche AG, said that the number of German high school students going on to study a technical subject at university remained considerably lower than the number required on the labor market. “We urgently have to do something to reverse this trend as quickly as possible. Otherwise, the ability of Germany and its companies to compete in the international arena will be at risk”, said the Porsche manager to the prize winners and their parents in Weissach. Although the Stuttgart-based sports car manufacturer has always been one of the most attractive employers for university graduates in Germany and is thus fortunate to be able to select the best from a large number of applicants, Porsche is also extremely dependent on the supplier industry and this has been facing an obvious shortage of new blood coming into the profession: “This is a very dangerous development”, warned Wiedeking. “After all, these suppliers, who are often highly innovative, are the backbone of the German automotive industry.”
If we do not succeed in encouraging more young people to enter technical professions in the long-term, the Porsche manager believes that this will have immeasurable consequences for Germany as an economic location: “Who will develop top, internationally competitive products ‘Made in Germany’ ready to be launched onto the market in the future if there are no longer enough young engineers coming from the universities?” asked Wiedeking. In addition, he highlighted that only engineers and technical scientists are able to develop the new technology of the future which could be used to overcome the enormous challenges ahead relating to climate change.
The Baden-Württemberg Minister for Culture and Education, Helmut Rau, also emphasized the importance of future scientific and technical graduates: “Our society needs qualified and motivated engineers and scientists who will secure the future of our country with ideas and inventions that they then launch onto the market.” Rau called upon young women in particular to choose the relevant training courses and studies: “If we no longer look at technical innovation exclusively from a male perspective, then we make way for additional ideas, creativity and innovation”, said the Minister. The preconception that women are not suited to technical occupations has been proven wrong in many other countries.
The Ferry Porsche Prize, named after the founder of the Porsche sports car who died in 1998, has been awarded since 2001.
Dr. Wolfgang Porsche, Ferry Porsche’s youngest son and Chairman of the Supervisory Board at the sports car manufacturer, also spoke to the prize winners in person this year. In his speech, he recalled the construction office being founded by his grandfather Ferdinand Porsche in Stuttgart in 1931, which produced not only the Auto Union racing cars but also the VW “Beetle”, perhaps the most famous car in the world, during the thirties.
His father, Ferry, was the first to build a sports car in 1948, which bore the Porsche name as its official brand. By starting series production of these vehicles, Ferry Porsche laid the foundations for today’s sports car factory. “My father was instrumental in the company’s success right up until his death in 1998 – first as the owner, managing director and head developer, then as Chairman of the Supervisory Board and later as an experienced advisor”, said Dr. Porsche, praising his father’s life’s work.
The highlight of this year’s celebration in Weissach was once again the awarding of six scholarships for internships abroad. The lucky winners were Julia Gentner (Kopernikus-Gymnasium Aalen-Wasseralfingen), Gregor Glomb (Lessing-Gymnasium Karlsruhe), Charlotte Gunsilius (Gymnasium Königin-Olga-Stift Stuttgart), Bastian Hettich (Lise-Meitner-Gymnasium Remseck/Neckar), Till Krämer (Rechberg-Gymnasium Donzdorf) and Florian Winke (Scheffold-Gymnasium Schwäbisch Gmünd). The winners have the opportunity to complete a four-week internship at one of the sports car manufacturer’s sales subsidiaries abroad during Summer 2007.