Growth in the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft’s workforce 2014–2018

At year-end 2018, Fraunhofer had 26,648 employees, 18,913 of whom were research, technical or administrative staff (RTA staff), 7225 students, and 510 trainees. That corresponds to a year-over-year increase of 5.2 percent or 1321 employees in 2018. In other words, the rate of increase has risen significantly compared with the already high rate of 3.6 percent in 2017.

In accordance with its mission statement, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft offers its employees the opportunity to develop the professional and personal skills that will allow them to take up positions of responsibility either at Fraunhofer or in other areas of science or industry. This approach, which builds on the Fraunhofer Guiding Principles, makes clear that, for the overwhelming majority of employees – especially research personnel – Fraunhofer represents an important stage in their individual professional development. Fraunhofer offers both careers in management as well as career paths as specialists. The latter have already been formalized at a number of Fraunhofer Institutes. Careers may continue outside the Fraunhofer environment (springboard careers) in line with the organization’s mission of knowledge transfer. Experience gained at Fraunhofer prepares employees not only for a later occupation in industry or science, but also for starting up spin-offs.

Given this policy of encouraging knowledge transfer, Fraunhofer’s high employee turnover rate among RTA staff is a positive phenomenon. In 2018, 1600 RTA staff left the organization, while 2548 new employees were taken on. Some 56 percent of new recruits were young researchers embarking on their career. Overall, at year-end 2018, Fraunhofer employed 10,331 scientists, accounting for 55 percent of all RTA staff.

The guidelines on short-term contracts launched in 2013 are being systematically implemented at the Fraunhofer Institutes. In recent years, targeted discussion of the topic and sustained monitoring helped reduce the proportion of research employees on short-term contracts by 4 percentage points to 59.2 percent at year-end 2018. The ratio of technical and administrative employees and research support staff on short-term contracts was 29.4 percent. Overall, 45.7 percent of RTA staff are employed on short-term contracts. Around 11 percent of Fraunhofer’s employees are from outside Germany. A key factor in positioning Fraunhofer as an attractive employer in the international employment market, particularly in the science and research segment, was its signing of, and compliance with, the European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers (EU Charter & Code, for short). The EU considers the 40 principles contained in the EU Charter & Code to be critical criteria in ensuring that scientific organizations remain attractive and economically successful. On the basis of this, Fraunhofer submitted a Human Resources Strategy for Researchers (HRS4R) to the EU Commission and about a year ago was granted the right to use the EU’s HR Excellence in Research logo. In awarding the logo, the Commission singled out for praise the working conditions at Fraunhofer, the career opportunities for young researchers and the high-caliber research environment. This certification confirms the high quality of Fraunhofer’s HR policy.

Vocational training is an integral part of Fraunhofer’s personnel development strategy. The diversity of career opportunities is reflected in the wide range of dual vocational training courses and study programs on offer, through which Fraunhofer provides training in 49 recognized professions covering 6 occupational categories and hosts 17 dual study programs. Of the organization’s 510 trainees, 455 are enrolled on dual vocational training courses, 24 on dual study programs with a focus on academic training, and 31 on dual study programs with a focus on practical training.