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BMW's factory for older workers

2011-02-17 07:51

SHORT WORK: BMW has devised a new way to keep older workers on certain assembly lines.

BERLIN, Germany - Car giant BMW has unveiled a factory it calls the answer to Germany's skills shortages and low birth rate, insisting the project aimed at older people is more than an old-folks' assembly line.

Based in the south of the country in the town of Dingolfing, the new plant has ergonomic work stations with extra back support, better lighting and an easier pace than factory workers may have previously experienced.

Ludwig Lang, who has spent 40 of his 57 years working for BMW, said: "I don't need to reach as far for things as I did before and I manage to take care of things while holding myself upright - it really is a relief.”

EXPANSION PLANS

The Bavarian automaker says the factory is a world first because, while it employs people of all ages, it is aimed particularly at the valuable, older, skilled people it hopes to retain.

It hopes to expand the programme - which includes relaxation rooms and a healthy canteen - to 4000 workers in production areas across German-speaking countries by 2011.

Board member Frank-Peter Arndt explained: "It's important, to use the catchphrase, given the skills shortage but we’re also deeply convinced we should not lose all that experience gained by colleagues over many years."

The German Chamber of Industry and Commerce says Germany lacks about 400 000 skilled people.
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