Demographic Change and Futures Studies
The department Demographic Change and Futures Studies is concerned with one of the major processes of social change in Germany, Europe and in many countries worldwide. A key challenge for developed industrialised nations is to maintain a high level of innovation capability, productivity and competitiveness despite an ageing and shrinking workforce. Here, integral solutions are vital, ranging from the mobilisation of the educational potential and the activation of the labour market potential, flexible working-time models across the life course to the biography-oriented design of working arrangements, as well as the use of technological solutions to maintain and enhance skills and abilities.
Building on demographic projections, the department commands a rich repertoire of predominantly qualitative methods of future-oriented research. Comprehensive experience in techniques like road mapping, foresight and horizon scanning, as well as research experience in different thematic areas provide a solid basis for customised and tailor-made solutions in a variety of fields. The focus rests on the derivation of options for action in situations characterised by uncertainty and ambivalence.
Within the framework of the Federal Government’s high-tech strategy, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding research projects on a national and European level for the development of systems of assistance adapted to the needs of the elderly. This is done by addressing the need for research in all areas of elderly persons’ daily life through specifically directed announcements: “Age-adapted Assistance Systems for Healthy and Independent Living (AAL)”, “Development of Further Education Programmes and Additional Qualifications on Vocational and Higher Education Level in the Field of Age-adapted Assistance Systems (QuAALi)”, and “Mobile until Old Age – Seemless Mobility Chains to Eliminate, Circumvent and Overcome Barriers”. Funding measures for “Tomorrow’s Assisted Care” and “With 60+ in the Midst of Working Life” are in preparation. In parallel with these cooperative projects, measures such as accompanying research and innovation partnerships are being implemented.
The five central research topics Health, Social Systems, Basic and Further Training, Working Environment/Innovation, as well as Development of Urban and Rural Areas/Living and Mobility are key areas of research in the proposal, developed on the German initiative, for a “Gemeinsame Projektplanung” (Joint Programming Initiative) in the domain of demographic change. These will be topics for treatment by the member states on a coordinated, interdisciplinary and transboundary basis.
Within the framework of the annual AAL Congress, developments in the field of Ambient Assisted Living (with well over 900 participants lately) have been presented to a broad public since 2008. The congress is jointly organised and held by the BMBF and VDE. VDI/VDE-IT supports the Ministry in its preparation and implementation content- and organization-wise.