While digitalisation has been present for long and on the rise in all areas of life, the digitalisation of public administration in Germany is still in its infancy. Compared with other countries, Germany is only in the mid-range concerning eGovernment, at the most. The result of this is an inefficiently organised bureaucracy, the harmful effects of which can be felt by citizens by way of unnecessary official procedures, long processing times and mediocre quality.
Digitisation is a central aspect of an increasingly fast-paced technological change. Digital technologies are therefore forming the basis for new business models more frequently, and the digitalisation of production and work processes is continually gaining momentum. The successful use of digital technologies in many industries is now considered to be crucial to stay competitive in the future on an international level. Overall, the success of digital transformation in the economy is considered to be vital in securing growth and prosperity. As an example, the digitalisation of production in Germany, also known as ‘Industry 4.0’, is seen as a great opportunity as the manufacturing industry continues to be important in Germany when compared with other industrial nations on an international level. However, digital technologies are already prominent even in the service sector and in agriculture, and it is important to keep up-to-date with the latest trends and accept the opportunities and challenges that come with further digitalisation (a keyword here is ‘platform economy’).
It is crucial for many parents to provide day-care for their children because they want and often need to return to the job market. Moreover, since such a return needs quite some time of preparation and coordination with the employer, parents need a guarantee for their child’s care. Currently, the application processes are complicated and lengthy. So the proper distribution process should consist of several criteria: The parents should be able to decide when and which institution should care for their child. The number of spots should be used efficiently. Also, the parents must deliver a true set of facts from the parents regarding the distance to home or workplace and educational concept. False statements to get a spot in a particular institution must be prohibited. As a result, parents should be satisfied with the first offer they get for a spot because it would fit their requirements. Currently, many parents state their wishes to get a spot for a particular institution or wait for other offers, which leads to an advantage for parents who are better informed over others.
Today’s media society has undergone fundamental changes due to technological developments, primarily due to the Internet and mobile devices. The universal availability of interactive media services and online social networks generate new opportunities for media use, but also leads to new challenges and dangers. Adequate media literacy is therefore increasingly developing into a crucial qualification to be able to move in the world of life and work. This creates new demands on media competence, which relate to the reflective, self-determined, responsible and participatory handling of new information technologies, data and information. Since a lack of media literacy limits the possibilities for political participation and cultural participation, political education without media education is not possible. In this context, “digital sovereignty”, i.e. the ability to act and decide for oneself in digital space, also plays an important role.
The current migration crisis is raising public awareness to the importance of population movements. Recent studies show that 3% of the global population does not live in their native countries (see Özden et al., 2011). Population movements have been increasing since the 1960s and are becoming more and more asymmetrical: the majority of current immigration waves focus on a few countries and cities of destination. In particular, the destinations of highly qualified migrants – interesting from an economic point of view – are concentrated on a few English-speaking regions with relatively high incomes (Kerr et al., 2016). The reasons for the migration of highly skilled workers to their destination countries are manifold: On the one hand, the desire to spend one to two semesters in the destination country as an exchange student, or even to gain a foreign degree over an extended period (two to four years). On the other hand, however, political conflicts and economic crises in the country of origin can lead to the emigration of highly qualified people.
In Germany, many children and young people in households are living below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold. This also has long-term effects. Studies have shown that success in education and other important things (such as health, life expectancy etc.) are heavily dependent on the home. At the same time, Germany has a developed welfare state and social expenditure represents an essential part of the federal budget. Most of the support for children and young people in low-income families comes in the form of cash payments, e.g. unemployment benefits II (‘Hartz IV’), housing benefit or child supplements. There are also benefits such as child allowance, which all families are entitled to regardless of income. Most services specifically aim at single parents, for example, maintenance payments. As well as these cash payments, families also receive support through benefits in kind and services offerings. This includes childcare (parental contributions are made on a sliding scale based on social status, and only cover a portion of the actual cost), free education and support as part of the education and participation package, as well as child and youth welfare services. Benefits in kind and service offerings are often justified by the fact that the support reaches the children or young people in this way. However, the education and participation package shows that parents and public administration have significantly higher expenses with this kind of support in comparison with cash payments.