Social Sciences

Institute for Work, Skills and Training (IAQ)

The Institute for Work, Skills and Training undertakes comparative interdisciplinary and international research, with a particular focus on the fields of employment and the labour market, social systems, as well as education and childcare. A distinguishing feature of its profile is the combination of basic and applied research. The IAQ is part of many national and international research networks. Owing to their special expertise, members of the Institute are often invited to sit on expert commissions, such as the Expert Commission for the Federal government’s First Report on Gender Equality. They have also attended parliamentary hearings, such as  a consultation for the proposed legislation on the minimum wage (“Act to strengthen the autonomy of collective bargaining”) or on labour market policy.

Several projects at the IAQ examined the erosion of the German collective bargaining system and the emergence of a low-wage sector in Germany and by international comparison. A focal point of this research was the analysis of the ­effects of minimum wages on wage distribution and employment. The IAQ was the only social science institute alongside five economics institutes to take part in the evaluation of German sector-specific minimum wages by BMAS. One of the central findings was that the minimum wages in the eight sectors examined had no negative effects on employment. The IAQ has indicated in several publications that introducing a minimum wage is not simply a question of “whether” but also of “how”. For example, companies must be given time to prepare for its introduction. Minimum wages have also been shown to have more positive effects in an innovative environment with a well-qualified workforce than where an innovation gap exists.

For more than ten years – an unusually long period of time for external funding – changes in age transition have been explored in the “Age transition monitor”. It traces the rise in employment among older people and in the retirement age as a result of pension reforms over the past years. The chances of making a successful transition into old age are still determined primarily by workload; however, gender inequalities in the labour market and differences in qualification also play a role. In parallel to this work and with the support of BMAS, the IAQ also evaluated “Perspectives 50plus”, a federal programme ­exploring new ways of helping the older long-term unemployed back into work. It was found that this goal is more achievable if the agencies responsible for implementing the relevant labour market policies at the local level have some freedom and qualified personnel to make necessary provisions on a case-by-case basis.

The BMBF funded two large collaborative projects which made it possible to continue the tradition of research on innovative working arrangements. The first project, conducted in close collaboration with four manufacturing companies, explored approaches to demographic change in critical areas such as healthcare management and human resources policy in companies. The second project, looking at personnel management that is sensitive to stages of working life as a driver of innovation in demographic change, is being conducted with two institutional partners and several cooperating companies (among them BMW Fahrzeugtechnik, SAP, Siemens, Deutsche Telekom, and EADS). The project sets out to ­explore new personnel management concepts for employees in the high-stress field of IT development over the entire course of their working life.

Several projects were concerned with changes in working times and the wishes of employees in this respect. With the support of the Sloan Foundation, a special issue of the “Industrial & Labor Relations Review” was published on the current findings of research on working time and included contributions from three continents. On behalf of EUROFOUND in Dublin, the IAQ analysed different working time arrangements in Europe during critical life phases, such as parenthood, on the basis of the “Fifth European Working Conditions Survey”.

Two studies explored the link between academic and vocational education. They looked at professionalisation and practical relevance in the increasingly academic education of childcare workers and educators and at the development of dual study programmes, which have emerged as a new, intermediate route to qualifications. The BMBF-supported study showed that this dual form of education is an effective instrument for companies that wish to recruit secondary school graduates, most of whom wish to study early on, and thereby meet future demand for professional staff.

The research findings are made available to practitioners and the public. They are reported in press releases and are available in summarised form in the “IAQ-Report” and “IAQ-Standpunkt” publications.