CHAPTER THREE: EXISTING ENGAGEMENT BETWEEN SCOTLAND AND GERMANY
This chapter attempts to explore the level to which both Scotland and Germany currently engage with each other in relation to tourism, education and business. The chapter reviews these aspects under the headings of (i) 'Building on Pre-Existing Links'; (ii) 'Education & Youth Links', Building Bridges'; (iii) ' Tourism, Scotland's Links with Germany and finally (iv) ' Business Links.
Summary of Findings
- Current bilateral links with Germany provide an established platform upon which even stronger and broader links can be built
- An action plan signed between Scotland and Bavaria in 2006, aiming to foster collaborative links in EU, education and land development policy, develop existing links in pupil exchange, and establish links between tourism stakeholders in the two countries
- Formal links exist between Scotland and North-Rhine Westphalia, based largely on achieving a collaborative partnership in the fields of science and technology
- 36 twinnings have been established between German and Scottish towns that, it is argued, encourage people to broaden their horizons, break down barriers and overcome stereotypes, promotes towns and cities in Scotland and raise their profile overseas, and utilise an international forum for the exchange of knowledge, experience, ideas, skills and best practice.
Education and Youth Links
- Research highlights the potential positive outcomes of youth exchange, both for individuals and society more generally
- In 2005 Germany and Britain agreed to make youth exchange a priority in German-British relations
- Of the sixteen school and youth links outlined in the UK-German Connection database, two involve Scottish schools
- Of the nineteen schools participating in the British German Association's Youthbridge programme, one is Scottish
- Recent figures highlight that between 2003 and 2006, the number of pupils entering SQA German language exams at Standard Grade has decreased by 18%
- While in 1976, 3,130 pupils sat the Higher German exam, this had dropped to 2,078 by 1997 and more recently to 1,399 in 2006, a decrease of 18% from 2005
- Recent research indicates that pupils in UK schools believed that competency in a foreign language was not a requisite skill for entering employment or higher education
- By contrast, learning English in Germany remains a necessity and, with the UK providing the nearest context for Germans to hone their competencies, Scotland remains a very popular destination for German students. Around 436 German students participated in the Socrates Erasmus programme in Scottish Universities in 2005, an increase of 10% from 2003
- Despite the positive steps towards forging closer links with Germany, there is a risk that German could become a 'niche language', because fewer pupils in Scotland are studying languages and, for pupils who do study languages there are a variety of options to choose from.
- Tourism-related industries account for 12% of turnover and 10% of GVA in Scottish service industries
- Germany, along with France and the USA, has been identified as the core target market for Scottish tourism
- Germany represents Scotland's second largest tourist market in the world, second only to the USA, with over 285,000 Germans visiting the country in 2005. During their stay, it is estimated that they spent over £131 million
- Between 2001 and 2004, the number of Germans coming to Scotland increased by 27%
- There are four direct flights from Germany to Scotland, with a new Easyjet link to Dortmund scheduled to start in May 2007
- There are few concessions to provision of information in German language. A recent study of foreign language comprehension in hotels in Scotland, discovered that, when tested, the survey respondents were found to be lacking in the ability to deliver the service quality required.
- Germany is Scotland's second largest trading partner in Europe, accounting for 15% of all exports to EU countries
- Although it remains one of the top three export destinations in the world, the total exports to Germany have declined by 22% since 2002
- There are around 1300 German companies with subsidiaries in the UK and 800 UK owned companies operating in Germany
- The number of German-owned companies operating in Scotland is unclear. Recent conflicting figures suggest that there are between 60 and 125 German companies with Scottish subsidiaries
- Between 2003 and 2004, there was an increase of 18% in the number of business tourism related trips to 45,000, delivering £15 million to Scotland's economy
- A study of 981 SMEs in Scotland reveals 50% reported language barriers to business, 17% encountered cultural barriers, and 6% reported loss of potential business
- 21% of UK exporters face, or have faced, language barriers when dealing with international clients. Similarly, just less than 1 in 5 face, or have faced, a cultural barrier.
Background and Context
Although links between Scotland and other countries stretch back hundreds of centuries, the advent of devolution has given Scotland increased scope to engage in efforts to forge international relationships and develop a self-confident role in Europe. The Scottish Executive's International Strategy (2004a) stated a clear strategic goal to position Scotland as a " leading small nation, attractive to potential overseas partners and visitors and with a thriving and dynamic economy". The focus of enhancing Scotland's profile centres around three key aims:
- To support and expand Scotland's international business connections;
- Attract fresh talent, tourists, businesses and major events to Scotland;
- Build strong ties of economic, political and cultural benefit to Scotland.
In order to take this commitment forward, the Germany Strategy has been advanced as one of the key mechanisms for enhancing the profile of Scotland in the future. Towards achieving this end, the Germany Strategy has a number of specific objectives:
- In broad terms, elevate the profile and image of Scotland among German opinion formers and the German public more widely. The plans aim to enhance and communicate contemporary Scotland's profile as a major destination for tourism, employment, and commerce
- Increase the number of German tourists coming to Scotland
- Increase awareness in Germany of the opportunities and strengths that exist in the six priority business sectors in Scotland (financial services, life sciences, food and drink, tourism, micro/optoelectronics and energy)
- Consistent with the Talent Scotland enterprise, increase the number of Germans living and working in Scotland
- Increase direct transport connections between Scotland and Germany
- Increase connections and exchange of best practice between Scotland and Germany
- Improve co-ordination of Scottish engagement with Germany.
This review follows extensive desk based research on the existing evidence base on the links between Scotland and Germany. The search comprised the following actions:
- A key word search on a number of academic journal databases incorporating the fields of business and marketing, the social sciences, tourism and politics. These searches were checked using broader searches using Google Scholar.
- A key word search on the word wide web using Google.
A Search of the key Scottish web based resources, including the Scottish Executive Website, Scottish Enterprise, VisitScotland, and Scottish Development International.
The descriptions of existing links are framed by four fields. First, this review will outline the formal links that exist between the two countries, namely bilateral agreements with Bavaria and North-Rhine Westphalia. Second, the existing links in the areas of education and youth will be examined. Thirdly, it will describe the tourism links between Germany and Scotland. Finally, the links that presently exist in the area of business and commerce are also part of this review.
Building on pre-existing links
Towards achieving the objectives of the Germany Strategy, the Executive benefits from having pre-existing bilateral links in Germany upon which even stronger and broader links can be built. Scotland and the German region of Bavaria have always shared links, largely forged through a shared ideological sense of separateness and distinctiveness within the wider framework of statehood of Britain and Germany respectively. More recently, however, formal links between the two areas were created. In May 2005, an Action Plan (2005a) was signed between Scotland and Bavaria. The agreement focuses primarily on increasing collaboration in EU, education and land development policy, developing existing links in pupil exchange, and establishing sustainable links between tourism stakeholders in the two countries.
Recent links developed between Scotland and North-Rhine Westphalia is more specifically centred on achieving a collaborative partnership in the fields of science and technology. In particular, the co-operation agreement focuses on biotechnology and life sciences, 'green' technology, and renewable energy (Scottish Executive 2005b).
Tourism prospects from and to Germany are strengthened by the 36 twinnings between German and Scottish towns. Town-twinning was developed in Europe shortly after the Second World War as a way of encouraging reconciliation and building cultural bridges between people in Europe. The twinnings in Scotland, it is argued, provide a potentially good platform on which to build cultural relationships as well as tourism links with Germany ( www.culturalprofiles.net). As Aberdeen City Council (2007) highlight, twinning encourages people to broaden their horizons, break down barriers and overcome stereotypes, promotes towns and cities in Scotland and raise their profile overseas, and utilise an international forum for the exchange of knowledge, experience, ideas, skills and best practice. Furthermore, it is argued that twinning encourages people to experience the 'real' culture of a country by stepping away from the "institutionalised mass tourists" and experiencing a destination out with the safety of their "environmental bubble" (Litvin 2003:77). As one of the organisers of the Falkirk-The Odenwald town-twinning relationship emphasises, "being twinned will take you places and expose you to experiences which you would never enjoy as a tourist 'following the crowd'. It will enable you to make lifelong friends and to enjoy the pleasure of trying to communicate with each other in different languages".
In 2004, Munich and Edinburgh celebrated fifty years of twinning between the two cities. In commemoration of the anniversary, a new square was opened in Munich named 'Edinburghplatz' (Scottish Executive 2004b) Similarly, Inverness recently celebrated 40 years of twinning with Augsburg in Bavaria, by having a mini Highland games, trade displays and Scottish entertainment in Germany (The City of Inverness Town Twinning Committee 2006).
Table 5: Twinnings - Germany and Scotland
Argyll and Bute
Given the far-reaching nature of these bilateral links, particularly the links with Bavaria and town-twinning, the lack of information about them is rather surprising. Indeed, there is scant information about the links with Germany more broadly. Other than the small amount of discourse disseminated by the Executive themselves, there is little to no information outlining the links between Germany and Scotland. " Scotland's Links with Germany" exists as the principal article that promotes awareness of the existing contacts between the two countries. From the search, we can deduce that no research has been conducted in the following areas:
- Attitudes of the public in Germany and Scotland (or the UK more widely) about the planned links.
- Awareness of the pre-existing links between the two countries
Education and Youth Links- Building Bridges
De La Roix and Ryder (2005:1) recently highlighted that, beyond the existing ties of two governments, a UK-Germany bilateral partnership can only be strengthened if " the citizens of both countries are able to understand and communicate with each other, if they are familiar and trust one another". Understanding is the first step in creating and maintaining friendly national relationships (Litvin 2003). With this in mind, young people have been highlighted as one of the foremost channels through which closer links between Germany and Scotland can be cultivated. By encouraging language learning in Scottish schools, and exchange programmes between the two countries, young people are integral to the broader agenda of promoting Scotland as an attractive place to work, invest and visit.
Indeed, the evidence supporting such an approach is somewhat compelling. Although there are no studies exploring the positive effectives arising from youth exchange programmes involving Scottish or British citizens specifically, other evidence, predominantly from America, endorses the current approach. Evidence from these studies highlights that youth exchange programmes, whether short-term or long-term, have many benefits for the individuals involved. In addition to providing travel opportunities, by meeting host county residents and through becoming immersed in another culture, these studies found that individuals developed their language skills, broadened their cultural knowledge, became reluctant to perpetuate stereotypes and distortions of other cultures, valued diversity, and built long lasting cross-border relationships (Thot 1998;Boyd 2001).
Furthermore, as the Executive purports, these personal benefits become significant societal benefits. As Thot (1998:8) highlights in his study of The Congress-Bundestag Youth exchange between Germany and the USA, "the bottom line is that every individual experience which respondents had across the Atlantic helped build a bridge between the United States and Germany". In this vain, exchange has the potential to promote the cross-fertilisation of German and Scottish cultures and the young people that partake in these schemes can become ambassadors for Scotland.
In recognition of these benefits, in 2005 Germany and Britain agreed to make youth exchange a priority in German-British relations. The strengthening of the UK-German links advisory office, with its ancillary internet site "the voyage", heralded a commitment to promote and support exchange between the two countries. Despite its dedication to Britain more widely, the " UK-German Connection" continues to be the central medium through which youth links between Germany and Scotland are promoted. It is largely responsible for adopting a key 'umbrella' role, providing advice on youth links in collaboration with key stakeholders in both countries. It functions to assist youth links on a number of levels:
- Provides information on programmes, grants and opportunities that are available for youth and school links between the UK and Germany
- Provides advice and support with initiating, establishing and developing links and activities involving UK and German partners
- Provides information on case studies and examples of best practice from existing youth and school links.
At present, of the 16 school and youth links outlined in the UK-German Connection database, two involve Scottish schools. Fort Augustus' Kilchumen Academy are partnered with the Gymnasium Querfurt from Sachsen-Anhult, and, likewise, the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway are partnered with Gymnasium am Romerkastell in Rheinland-Pfalz.
This trend is replicated across other organisations dedicated to promoting youth links. The British German Association's Youthbridge programme offers advice and financial assistance to German departments in British schools with the focus on ' Learning for Enterprise'. Within this Youthbridge endeavours to:
- Make German content taught in German schools more relevant to today's world
- Ensure learning German is fun
- Support school trips that add to the understanding of German life and culture
- Foster close links between small business and the British German community. To date, they have forged close links with the British-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the German Embassy in London, the Goethe Institute, and Voyage.
Of the 19 schools taking part in their school scheme across the UK, there is one in Scotland, the Royal High School in Edinburgh. It is worth noting that the map used to display the 19 schools currently excludes Scotland. (See Appendix 2).
It could be argued that much of the success of youth exchange is dependent on individuals developing a curiosity about German culture and a desire to learn the German language. Indeed, if learning the German language becomes more than an educational tool, and instead becomes the catalyst for forging links between the two countries, the biggest barrier to this scheme, therefore, is the falling rates of students studying German in Scotland's schools. Recent figures highlight that between 2003 and 2006, the number of pupils entering SQA German language exams at Standard Grade has decreased by 18%. Although there has been a decrease in the number of people entering the French exam, it is not as large at 11%. By contrast, the number of students entering the Spanish Standard Grade exam has increased by 11% between 2003 and 2006 (Scottish Qualifications Authority 2006).
Table 6 Overview of entries for SQA modern language Standard Grades 2003-2006
McPake et al (1999 cited in Hall 2000) noted that there has been a major decline in the numbers of candidates studying languages at Higher Grade in the last twenty years. While in 1976, 3,130 pupils sat the Higher German exam, this had dropped to 2,078 by 1997. More recent figures suggest that this trend is continuing. The number of pupils learning German at Higher level in 2006 was 1,399, a decrease of 18% from 2005 (Scottish Qualifications Authority 2006). McPake et al (1999 cited in Hall 2000) found that the majority of young people have a negative perception of the market value of language qualifications. While young people acknowledge that learning German may have long term benefits, they were less convinced of any short term benefits. In particular, respondents believed that competency in a foreign language were not a requisite skill for entering employment or higher education. These figures underline the fears expressed by Ingo Radcke at the recent Germany Discussion Forum (2006). Despite the positive steps towards forging closer links with Germany, there is a risk that German could become, what Radcke describes as, a 'niche language' in Scotland. Similarly, De La Roix and Ryder (2005:18) highlight the fragile condition of German teaching in UK schools. As they caution, " it cannot be ruled out that over a period of years, German language teaching may lose the critical mass necessary to sustain it in schools, particularly in the maintained sector".
By contrast, learning English in Germany remains a necessity and, with the UK providing the nearest context for Germans to hone their competencies, Scotland remains a very popular destination for German students. Around 436 German students participated in the Socrates Erasmus programme in Scottish Universities in 2005, an increase of 10% from 2003 ( UK Socrates Erasmus Council 2006). More generally, the number of German students studying at Scottish Universities has been constant from 1998 with a slight increase from 2001. Scottish Executive figures indicate that there were around 1250 German students studying at Scottish Universities in 2004 (Scottish Executive 2004b).
By contrast, the number of German teachers participating in the Socrates Erasmus programme has decreased over the past three years. While 26 German national teachers spent time in Scottish schools in 2003, this decreased to 20 and 19 in 2004 and 2005 respectively ( UK Socrates Erasmus Council 2006). This trend is replicated across the rest of the UK with the number of German teachers coming to the country having decreased by 10% between 2003 and 2005 ( UK Socrates Erasmus Council 2006).
Although significantly less than Germans coming to Scotland, the numbers of Scottish university students taking part in Socrates Erasmus exchange trips to Germany have remained relatively stable. Although the number of British students participating in the programme decreased by 19% from 132 in 2002 to 108 in 2004, figures from 2005 indicate an increase to 134 students ( UK Socrates Erasmus Council 2006).
The imbalance in participation in the two countries is largely a result of the Socrates Erasmus programme, and foreign learning more generally, being perceived as a language exchange programme in Scotland. By contrast, German students attending Scottish Universities study a wide variety of subjects ranging from biological science to business studies. This prevailing interpretation of German exchange as being orientated solely towards language restricts access to a small portion of the Scottish population, excluding other students and the broader Scottish public from the benefits of exchange. As a consequence, negative perceptions of Germany and German culture may persist that may, in turn, reduce the desire of Scottish people to access opportunities arising in Germany more widely.
A recent IpsosMORI (2006) study exploring the UK public's attitudes towards Germany highlighted this:
- Favourability towards Germany was the lowest of all the countries included in the study (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, USA)
- Young people under the age of 24 are among the least favourable
- The reasons for unfavourability included: the 2 nd World War and other memories (29%); 20% believed Germany to be arrogant; 19% cited the 'general attitude' of the country.
Yet despite these findings, 36% of the UK public perceived Germany as a good place to go on holiday while 30% perceive Germany as a good place to do business.
Unfortunately, there is no research specifically exploring the attitudes of Scottish people towards Germany and German people. In light of these wider negative perceptions of Germany among the British public, and the marginalisation of German in education more specifically, De La Roix and Ryder (2005:15) contend that " times have changed" and the UK government need to reconsider their strategy regarding youth links. It is no longer feasible, they argue, to rely on German teaching to generate demand for UK/German youth links and trigger a desire to visit Germany.
The Goethe Institute Glasgow acts as the primary group through which German culture is promoted in Scotland. They hold frequent events in Scotland that aim to encourage people to learn German and experience German culture. These include book clubs, readings of German poetry, theatre productions and German film screenings.
Tourism- Scotland's Links with Germany
The significance of tourism for Scotland cannot be overstated. In 2005, 17 million tourists took overnight trips to Scotland, spending over £4.2 billion. Recent figures compiled by Scottish Enterprise indicate that tourism-related industries account for 12% of turnover and 10% of GVA in Scottish service industries, a figure which VisitScotland aims to increase by 50% by 2015 (VisitScotland 2006a). Furthermore, 8.8% of all employment in Scotland is tourism-related (VisitScotland 2006a).
Germany, along with France and the USA, has been identified as the core target market for Scottish tourism (VisitScotland 2006a). It represents Scotland's second largest tourist market in the world, second only to the USA, with over 285,000 Germans visiting the country in 2005. During their stay, it is estimated that they spent over £131 million ( ONS 2005 cited in VisitScotland 2006b; VisitScotland 2006c; VisitScotland 2006d). With the exception of a drop largely due to the Foot and Mouth outbreak and September 11 th in 2001 (Martin and DeHaan 2005), the number of German visitors to Scotland has steadily increased over the last 5 years. Table 6 displays that between 2001 and 2004, the number of Germans coming to Scotland increased by 27%. Although there was a surge in the numbers in 2005, care should be taken when comparing the results from 2004 and before to 2005 due to changes in the methodology for data collection. Between 2001 and 2004 Prestwick airport was not included in the research, and the numbers travelling from this airport were estimated.
Unsurprising given the increase of low priced air links between the two countries, travelling by air has become the most popular method of travel. Currently, there are four direct flights from Germany to Scotland, with a new Easyjet link to Dortmund scheduled to start in May 2007. Direct links operate between both Glasgow and Edinburgh and the German cities of Berlin and Munich, while Ryanair operate flights from Prestwick to Niederhein, near Düsseldorf, and Hahn near Frankfurt. Similarly, a ferry route links Rosyth and Zeebrugge.
Table 7: German Visits to Scotland, by Expenditure, Air and Sea Travel
Expenditure (£m, 2005 prices)
Travel by Air (% of trips)
Travel by sea and tunnel (% of trips)
Despite these high visiting figures, The Germany Discussion forum (2006) raised concerns regarding the prevailing tendency of Scottish services to provide information to German visitors that assumes high levels of English. The Discussion Forum indicated that tourism related services made " few concessions to provision of information in German language". Indeed, the focus on Germany as a core target market necessitates the requirement for Scottish hotels and other service providers in the tourism sector to be able to communicate effectively with customers. Yet, despite this, a recent study (Martin and Davies 2006) of language skills in 100 hotels in Scotland discovered that during a telephone enquiry only 19% of respondents attempted to reply using the callers' language (German). As a consequence, Martin and Davies (2006) argue that, when tested, the survey respondents were found to be lacking in the ability to deliver the service quality required.
Although no statistics are available on the numbers of Scottish people visiting Germany, recent UK wide figures suggest that the numbers are high. Numbers indicate that the UK is the third highest source of visitors to Germany behind the USA and the Netherlands respectively. British residents made 4 million overnight stays in Germany in 2005, an increase of 5.4% from 2004 (German National Tourist Board 2006).
Recent figures from the Global Connections Survey (Scottish Executive 2005c) indicate that Germany is Scotland's second largest trading partner in Europe, accounting for 15% of all exports to EU countries. Although it remains one the top three export destinations in the world, the total exports to Germany have declined by 22% since 2002.
Table 8 Top 5 Export Destinations (£million), 2002-2005
Despite these falling export figures, the same period has witnessed an increase in the number of German companies choosing to operate in Scotland. The UK has, in recent years, benefited significantly from increased investment by German companies, such that in the early 1990s Germany accounted for 33 percent of all foreign direct investment in the UK even beating Japan (Evans, 1993 cited in Shaw 2000).
Presently, there are around 1300 German companies with subsidiaries in the UK and 800 UK owned companies operating in Germany (German-British Chamber of Industry and Commerce 2006). More specifically, the number of German-owned companies operating in Scotland is unclear. Recent conflicting figures suggest that there are between 60 and 125 German companies with Scottish subsidiaries (Murden 2005). As the consul general, Ingo Radcke (cited Murden 2005) recently discussed, " the extent of this relationship is hardly known among the general populace and even more could be done to stimulate the already strong trading links". Nevertheless, Scotland's varied key industries are attractive for a cross-section of foreign investors. Information that is available reveals that German companies operating in Scotland range from retailers Aldi, electronic manufacturers Siemens, appliances manufacture Bosch, Deutsche bank, mobile phone giants Tmobile, and technological firms SGL Technic, National Engineering Laboratory, and EBT Technologies (Global Friends of Scotland 2004; Scottish Executive 2004b; Murden 2005).
By contrast, as Scrimgeour (2005) highlights, there are " only a handful of Scottish companies which are active" in Germany. There is optimism for the future; however, as Standard Life and the Royal Bank of Scotland ( RBS) have both made substantial investments in Germany. RBS, in particular, has forged a high profile in the country and is developing its retail banking services, something that has, as Scrimgeour describes, been a 'graveyard' for foreign banks in the past.
Consistent with the growing investment in Scotland, the recent International Passenger Survey (cited in EICC Website) reports that between 2003 and 2004, there was an increase of 18% in the number of business tourism related trips to 45,000, delivering £15 million to Scotland's economy. As noticed previously, these trips are likely to increase as the number of direct air links increases.
The relevance of foreign language is not restricted to young people and education and tourism. Hagen's (1998 cited in Hall 2000) study of the extent of industry's linguistic deficiencies, identifies that 21% of UK exporters face, or have faced language barriers when dealing with international clients. Similarly, just less than 1 in 5 face, or have faced, a cultural barrier. Furthermore, Metcalf's (1991 cited in Hall 2000) research of 2000 companies in the UK discovered that 23% of respondents had encountered a barrier to trade caused by their lack of a particular language.
Other research conducted in Scotland specifically, highlights similar findings. ELISE's (1999 cited in Hall 2000) study of 981 SMEs in Scotland reveals 50% reported language barriers to business, 17% encountered cultural barriers, and 6% reported loss of potential business. Importance of foreign language cannot be underestimated. Outwith the USA, the other top export destinations are countries where English is not the first language. Furthermore, given the specialist nature of some of Scotland's five key industries, effective communication is essential for business links to be promoted and acquired.
Given the limited information available outlining present links between Scotland and Germany, it is somewhat difficult to develop an accurate picture of their form and breadth. Recent information about trade and tourism does highlight links that have existed between the two countries over many years. Furthermore, the current bilateral links with Bavaria and North-Rhine Westphalia are a promising basis for future links.
However, other evidence that exists suggests that beyond these links, cultural awareness of Germany is limited amongst the general population. Admittedly, there are 36 town twinnings but it would be interesting to know the extent to which people living in these towns are aware of such links. Indeed, more widely the lack of information about Scottish-German links has potentially far reaching consequences for the future of the GDP. If Scotland is to attract Germans to the country and encourage them to forge links beyond the romantic images of Scotland, there is a necessity to encourage an internationalist perspective in the general public. As the business world continues to shrink in an increasingly globalized world, knowing foreign customers and potential business partners is a necessity. With this in mind, any action or influence the Germany Strategy can undertake to encourage the importance of foreign language learning in Scottish schools and involvement in youth exchange would be significant.