Management Approach

Fair pay for top performance by our employees, wide-ranging opportunities for qualification and further development, a positive working environment and stringent occupational health and safety all go to make the Volkswagen Group an attractive employer.

After years of growth between 2006 and 2014, which created 143,055 new jobs across the Volkswagen Group through organic growth alone, we began a period of consolidation in our staffing levels in 2015. The Volkswagen Group has used the slowdown in employment growth to drive forward deeper integration of our workforces around the world as part of a systematic management approach. Alongside initiatives and incentives to revitalize our corporate culture, develop talent management, manage succession planning and improve our policy on global assignments, we are working on Group-wide human resources instruments, such as the Employee Opinion Survey. The Survey measures the opinion of all Group employees on their working situation and was fundamentally redesigned in 2015. We also took further steps in 2015 to embed dual vocational education and training as the fundamental principle for qualification of skilled workers at all our Group sites outside Germany. For the first time, dual degree courses were also rolled out at some sites outside Germany.

All these measures are aimed at achieving the same target: maintaining and developing our superb skills base and the outstanding expertise of Volkswagen employees across Group sites around the world. Our approach is to embed learning and teaching within “Berufsfamilien” (professional families) in line with Germany’s dual model of vocational education and training, which ensures close long-term coordination between theory and practice. Another key factor underpinning our success is systematic knowledge transfer – the passing on of knowledge and experience across divisions, departments and brands by in-house experts at all levels of the corporate hierarchy.

The Guidelines behind the Way We Do Business

As a global undertaking with 119 production sites across Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa, we have wide-ranging experience of cultural differences, approaches and worldviews. As a company, we are committed to respect, tolerance and cosmopolitanism and guarantee equal opportunities and equal treatment at all our sites. We are also committed to sustainable development in the towns, cities and regions in which we operate, a commitment that takes many different forms.

A range of voluntary undertakings and bilateral agreements with our employees and their representatives codify the fundamental standards, employee rights and arrangements for cooperation that apply across the Group.

  • The Declaration on Social Rights and Industrial Relations at Volkswagen (the Volkswagen Social Charter): In 2002, Volkswagen used this Declaration to document the basic social rights and principles that underpin its corporate identity. These social rights and principles are based on relevant International Labour Organization Conventions. A revised version of the Social Charter was signed in 2012.
  • The Volkswagen Global Labour Charter: The Charter came into force in autumn 2009 and combines greater rights to consultation with shared responsibilities. It provides for rights to information, consultation and co-determination for employee representatives within the brands, companies and sites represented on the Group Global Works Council.
  • The Volkswagen Code of Conduct: The Code of Conduct came into force in 2010 and remains the framework for lawful and ethical behavior.
  • The Charter on Temporary Work: In November 2012, Group Management, the European Works Council and the Group Global Works Council agreed a Charter on Temporary work, which sets out the principles for managing temporary work.
  • The Volkswagen Group Charter on Vocational Education and Training: The Charter came into force in 2015 and brings together a number of fundamental agreements, such as those on the selection process for apprentices, the duration and quality of vocational education and training, the tools and infrastructure available for delivering training content, and the transition to post-apprenticeship employment.

Employment Trends

In 2015, the workforce of the Volkswagen Group, including its Chinese joint ventures, increased by 3.0% to 610,076 as at December 31, 2015. Significant factors in this moderate growth were workforce expansion in our new plants in China, Mexico and Poland and the recruitment of skilled workers and experts, particularly in Germany and China.

There was no change in the breakdown of employees based in Germany and those based elsewhere in the Group: at the end of 2015, 45.7% of all our employees were based in Germany. The Volkswagen Group in Germany took a total of 3,698 temporary external personnel into the core workforce in 2015.

Top Employers

Once again, 2015 saw the Group securing leading positions in a number of employer rankings. Around 300,000 engineering, IT and business studies graduates from 24 European countries took part in a survey by the trendence consultancy company, again ranking us as the most attractive employer in the automotive sector. And the graduates participating in the trendence survey once again ranked Volkswagen as the second most attractive European employer.

In 2015, trendence’s “Young Professionals Barometer”, which measures the career aspirations and expectations of 7,300 young professionals in all sectors with up to eight years’ work experience, ranked Audi as the third most popular employer and Porsche as the fifth most popular employer among German graduates. In the same survey, Czech graduates ranked ŠKODA AUTO as their country’s most popular employer. Volkswagen and its brands also rank among the top employers in a number of other countries, including China, Mexico, South Africa, Spain and the United Kingdom.

The Opportunities Presented by Information Technology

Increasing digitization and networking, the need for end-to-end support for business processes, and the development of new sites continually pose new challenges to the Group’s IT functions. A well-equipped, state-of-the-art infrastructure is essential to tackling these challenges.

Efficient further development of the application landscape at the corporate sites, in business processes and in the sales network is just as vital. IT staff are responsible not only for developing the systems of all the Volkswagen Group’s brands but also for supporting users in technical development, production and sales. This is how applications tailored to the precise needs of their users are created.

The ongoing convergence of production and IT is opening up new opportunities. Big data processes allow machine faults to be analyzed and action taken at an early stage. Big data analytics make it possible to analyze and evaluate data volumes that are too vast and too complex to be processed using manual or conventional methods. Volkswagen’s factory planners can use the “digital factory” to virtually walk through the buildings before the ground has even been broken, allowing them to test their plans in advance and keep product launches on schedule.

The Group-wide “Fertigungs-, Informations- und Steuerungssystem” (Production, Information and Control System, or FIS) ensures that vehicles are produced efficiently – at the right time and with the right equipment. It is currently in use at 43 plants worldwide. FIS is a key success factor for enabling flexible and cross-brand production in the global production network. In the past three years, we have increased the Group-wide level of IT standardization in plant management to 84%.

Volkswagen is addressing the trend toward digitization in the Group’s own IT labs. These IT labs are innovation centers where new IT solutions are developed in close cooperation between departments, research institutions and technology partners, and with financial support for employees through the Innovation Fund II. Innovation centers act as test laboratories for the Group, as advisers on questions concerning the future of information technology and as liaison offices for start-up companies.

Data:Lab in Munich is the center of competence for topics such as big data, advanced analytics (the process for systematic analysis of data in electronic form), machine learning and artificial intelligence. The team of data scientists, project managers and technology experts is supported by specialists from leading big data companies, research institutions and representatives of start-ups. Examples of Data:Lab’s successful projects include forecasting customer requirements and customer loyalty and a long-range, all-time forecast for the planning of spare parts for the Kassel central depot. This innovation is recognized outside the Group, too. For example, in November 2015, Data:Lab was awarded the title “Landmark in the Land of Ideas” in a nationwide German competition. Data:Lab beat over 1,000 research institutes, companies, start-ups and associations to win the award in the Business category. In making the award, the judges said that Data:Lab provides convincing answers to the question of what form mobility will take in the future.

Meanwhile, Digital:Lab is being launched in Berlin. Among other things, a digital mobility platform will be created for the Group to provide mobility services for end customers, such as fuel price comparisons or parking and weather services.

We have also set up Smart.Production:Lab at the Wolfsburg site. Operating in the Industry 4.0 environment, it is making an important contribution toward progressively turning the Volkswagen Group’s production plants into smart factories. Deliberately applying agile methods and work processes plus a start-up culture, the lab’s goal is to rapidly develop application-oriented software and hardware pilots and prototypes for production and logistics in-house. The “Smart Logistics Watch” project is an early example of a successfully implemented pilot. Based on an idea that emerged from an internal “hackathon”, or programming competition, a smart watch application was developed in the lab in collaboration with the relevant specialist department in a very short period of time. The application provides effective support for logistics employees and further optimizes the logistics process of parts-picking.

A strong network is also fostered within the Group’s IT department. Group-wide hackathons or initiatives such as IT pitching days (ideas competitions) create platforms for employees to jointly develop new ideas and software prototypes. With internal communities, such as the Agile Community and the Group Connect internal network, we can quickly network experts across the Group. We are establishing these new methods, tools and ways of working so that the Group’s IT department can respond quickly, flexibly and efficiently to constantly changing requirements.

CodeFEST8 and KIDScraft 1.0 represent the close integration between the Group’s IT department and school and university students. Jointly organized in 2015 by several of the Group’s brands, the CodeFEST8 programming competition was aimed at university students studying technical subjects, particularly computer science and business information systems. During the competition, participants had just 28 hours to develop software aimed at “the mobility of the future”. Several hundred young people took part in the first round, which was held simultaneously at eight universities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. This made CodeFEST8 the largest programming competition to date in the automotive industry. The two best teams from each university campus qualified for the finals at CeBIT. At KIDScraft 1.0, the Group’s IT summer camp, 150 children from the Wolfsburg region stepped into the shoes of future IT engineers and carried out research. The aim of KIDScraft 1.0 is to foster young talent over the long term, with a special focus on promoting girls’ interest in IT as well as safeguarding the future of IT in Wolfsburg and the surrounding region.