Young talent pro­mo­tion and skil­led worker retention

The Thu­rin­gian pho­to­nics indus­try curr­ently employs around 18,500 skil­led workers, almost 16,000 of whom work in indus­try and almost 2,500 in rese­arch insti­tu­ti­ons. These are phy­si­cists and engi­neers, mathe­ma­ti­ci­ans, che­mists and IT spe­cia­lists, as well as skil­led workers in fields such as pre­cis­ion optics, mecha­tro­nics and phy­sics lab technicians.

The pho­to­nics indus­try expects sales growth of more than 10% in the coming years. This is reflec­ted in the per­son­nel fore­casts: by the end of 2024, a total of around 2,000 new posi­ti­ons will need to be fil­led through expan­sion and replacement.

At the same time, we face a mas­sive decline in the working-age popu­la­tion in Thu­rin­gia in the coming years. In addi­tion, the num­ber of gra­dua­tes in the rele­vant STEM sub­jects is also stagnating.

To ensure that growth and inno­va­tion in our tech­no­logy sec­tor are not threa­tened by a lack of per­son­nel, there is a lot for both indus­try and us to do in the coming years. We set the course for this early on: Since its foun­ding, Opto­Net has been expressly com­mit­ted to secu­ring skil­led workers at our loca­tion. For exam­ple, since 2001 we have been sur­vey­ing the com­pa­nies‹ needs for skil­led workers every two years in the Pho­to­nics Report, have been suc­cessfully run­ning our Opto­Net young talent pro­gram MASTER+ since 2010, and have been regu­larly brin­ging tog­e­ther the HR experts of our mem­ber com­pa­nies in the »Arbeits­kreis Fach­kräfte« for seve­ral years.

Our work focu­ses on 3 main areas:

  • The pro­mo­tion of STEM edu­ca­tion and career gui­dance,
  • the recruit­ment of (inter­na­tio­nal) pro­fes­sio­nals and skil­led workers, and
  • the fur­ther edu­ca­tion of skil­led workers and career changers

Pro­mo­tion of STEM edu­ca­tion and career guidance

From the kin­der­gar­ten to the pro­fes­sio­nal ori­en­ta­tion, we are active and want to inspire child­ren and young peo­ple for optics & Co. We show what is pos­si­ble with pho­to­nic solu­ti­ons, what light does and in which pro­fes­si­ons one can work towards the chal­lenges of the future.


  • Opto­Net-Kita Kof­fer
    We use simple expe­ri­ments to inspire pre­school and ele­men­tary school child­ren in a playful way about the world of light.
  • MINT-Fes­ti­val
    We are part of the orga­ni­zing team of the MINT-Fes­ti­val, which is held every two years to get child­ren and young peo­ple from the region exci­ted about science.
  • Prak­ti­kums­wo­che
    This young for­mat allows our mem­bers to pre­sent their com­pany and job oppor­tu­ni­ties in an easy and uncom­pli­ca­ted way.
  • Career ori­en­ta­tion
    We work actively with regio­nal schools, sup­port tea­chers with career gui­dance offe­rings and help our mem­bers deve­lop their school partnerships.

(Inter­na­tio­nal) pro­fes­sio­nals and skil­led workers

Our mis­sion is not only to keep stu­dents in the region, but to actively sup­port the immi­gra­tion of skil­led workers to Thuringia.


  • MASTER+ Pro­gramm
    In our one-year pro­gram, moti­va­ted stu­dents are given the oppor­tu­nity to get to know our mem­bers and the various career paths we offer.
  • Local Mar­ke­ting
    We are active on regio­nal and inter­na­tio­nal fairs and events. As a mem­ber of the advi­sory board of the Wel­come Cen­ter Jenaand the jury of the i‑Work Busi­ness Awards, we are com­mit­ted to cul­tu­ral diver­sity and an over­all mar­ke­ting stra­tegy for Jena as a high-tech location.
  • Equal oppor­tu­ni­ties and diversity
    The low quota of women in STEM study pro­gramsis also reflec­ted in the pho­to­nics indus­try (26%). To increase the attrac­ti­ve­ness of the indus­try, espe­ci­ally among women, we see it as our task to make inno­va­tive achie­ve­ments by women more visible.
  • Arbeits­kreis ›Fach­kräfte‹
    We offer CEO’s and HR mana­gers from the Opto­Net mem­ber­ship a regu­lar plat­form for fur­ther edu­ca­tion and infor­mal exchange.

Fur­ther edu­ca­tion of skil­led workers and career changers

We deve­lop and orga­nize a wide range of trai­ning pro­grams for the pro­fes­sio­nal and per­so­nal deve­lo­p­ment of our members.


  • JENAer Optik­kol­lo­quium
    We orga­nize the regu­lar event about new tech­no­lo­gies in the field of pho­to­nics, which is addres­sed to all inte­res­ted peo­ple in rese­arch, eco­nomy and education.
  • Work­shops and tech­no­logy programs
    We offer tech­no­logy-ori­en­ted advan­ced trai­nings, e.g. ›Illu­mi­na­tion Optics‹, ›Opti­cal Coa­tings‹ and ›Optics Design‹ in Ger­man and Eng­lish lan­guage and also act upon the cur­rent topic requests of our members.
  • Fur­ther edu­ca­tion in the field of per­son­nel and orga­niza­tio­nal development 
    From New Work topics to Employer Bran­ding and clas­si­cal employ­ment law, we pre­sent a wide range of offers.
  • Advan­ced trai­ning on cross-sec­tional topics
    For the most important tar­get mar­kets of our indus­try, we offer annual trai­ning on export con­trol. Qua­lity manage­ment, sus­taina­bi­lity and data pro­tec­tion are other topics we offer our members.
  • Spe­cial con­di­ti­ons for boo­kings with our part­ner networks
    We actively pro­mote trai­ning offers from our part­ners, where our mem­bers bene­fit from spe­cial con­di­ti­ons. (e.g. at Sili­con Sax­ony, the net­works of Optec­Net Ger­many or Pho­to­nics Austria)

Would you like to know more about our work?

Natalja Baj­kov­ski
HR & Talent Promotion

+49 (0) 3641 327 92 95

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