eco Survey on Germany’s Digital Policy in the Corona Crisis: Majority of Respondents Call on Government to Build a High-Performance & Competitive Digital Infrastructure – Time for a Digital Ministry

  • The German federal government should focus more strongly on digital policy issues, according to 65.4 percent of survey respondents
  • At the top of the digital policy agenda: expansion of digital infrastructures (67.8 percent), digital education (54 percent), and IT security & data protection (46.5 percent)
  • More than half of Germans support the concept of a digital ministry at federal level

In light of the Corona crisis, the German federal government should focus more on digital policy issues. 65.4 percent of respondents share this view, according to a representative survey commissioned by eco – Association of the Internet Industry from the opinion research institute Civey* – a survey in which 2,500 people in Germany took part at the beginning of August.

According to the survey, the respondents see a need for action in the area of digital policy, particularly in the further roll-out of digital infrastructures (67.8 percent), digital education (54 percent), and IT security & data protection (46.5 percent).

“As a result of the Corona crisis, the majority of people in Germany have become aware of how important high-performance, competitive and widely available digital infrastructures are for society and the economy,” says eco Chair of the Board Oliver J. Süme.

“A functioning digital ecosystem forms the foundation for all other essential digital policy measures, such as the establishment and expansion of digital educational offerings, digital data sovereignty or – in broad terms – the digital transformation of the German economy. Germany must not compromise on these basic principles of digitalisation. The digitalisation surge that society has experienced in recent months must now also be reflected in digital policy.”

Professional trainees in particular consider the expansion of digital training opportunities to be especially important

In the area of digital education, the response was particularly high among those who are currently dependent on digital offerings for education and training. For example, 79.7 percent of those who are currently still in traineeships stated that, in their opinion, the expansion of digital educational offerings was a particularly important digital policy measure during the Corona crisis; for college students, this figure was 67 percent.

In addition, Germans also see the digital transformation of the economy (27 percent), a right to a home office (22.6 percent), and the further development of the Corona app (19.9 percent) as important digital policy measures.

The public desire for improved digital offerings for education and further training, especially by young trainees, comes as no surprise to eco’s Chair. “Digital skills are of the utmost importance in all areas of life and the economy. Unfortunately, not only pupils and trainees, but also many students and employees have not been sufficiently trained and educated in this central future-oriented field.”

As a result, Germany is already experiencing a serious shortage of skilled workers in the highly innovative IT industry, and the future for this sector, which has so much potential and significance for Germany’s overall economy, looks correspondingly bleak. Süme goes on to state that: “Here, suitable nationwide initiatives and measures are urgently needed to counteract this trend. The German education system must be fundamentally reformed and digital offerings must be integrated as standard in the respective curricula.”

More than half of Germans would like to see a digital ministry at federal level

eco’s Chair considers the establishment of a digital ministry in the coming legislative term to be essential for achieving the most efficient and rapid digital transformation of the economy and society.

This opinion is shared by over half of the respondents (52.3 percent).

On this topic, eco’s Chair has this to say: “The demand for a digital ministry may sound somewhat abstract at first, but we urgently need an overarching and coordinating body that strategically manages and brings together the numerous digital policy strands of the German federal government. This is the only way to avoid bureaucratic hurdles or even conflicting initiatives from different ministries in the future, and to thus ensure that Germany’s systematic digital transformation succeeds in the long term.”

*On behalf of eco – Association of the Internet Industry, the opinion research company Civey surveyed 2,503 people between 31 July and 1 August 2020. The results are representative. The statistical margin of error of the overall results is 3.5 percent.

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