Career and children – can the two be reconciled?

The economic strength of the Stuttgart Region depends largely on the balance it offers between career and family life. With this in mind, the city of Stuttgart set up a department devoted to the principle of equal opportunities for men and women. It aspires to recruit highly educated women for the regional economy and to forge bonds with them in local industries and services. This effort includes supporting women as they strive to reconcile work and family life, and motivating companies to create their own company nurseries or day-care facilities.

Due to demographic changes and the resulting lack of qualified specialists in many fields, childcare for working women has become a hot topic for the economy and politics, and is considered a central challenge for creating a society fit for the future. The Trumpf company in Ditzingen has played a pioneer role in this field. The globally-operating family business headed by a mother of four bought several places in a local kindergarten in 2004, so they would be reserved for the offspring of employees. Daimler provides about 700 childcare placements in its own facilities throughout Germany.

Of these, 570 are in the “sternchen” day nurseries and another 130 in the child day-care centre “Sterntaler” in Stuttgart-Möhringen. With the opening of the company’s own childcare facility at the Mettingen site, Daimler AG now runs its thirteenth “sternchen” operation. In addition, another 150 placements are reserved for the children of Daimler personnel in various other locations. The automaker AMG decided to purchase placements in a kindergarten in Affalterbach to care for their employees’ infants and toddlers (from 2 months to 3 years). Other companies are building their own kindergarten or day-care facilities. The Esslingen company Eberspächer, a world-renowned specialist in exhaust technology and automotive electronics, has a generously equipped day-care ­centre of its own on the third floor of its Service Centre.

Two adjacent companies, Index (machinery construction) and Bechtle (publishing house for the Esslinger Zeitung daily newspaper), also make use of the day-care centre, at fees not higher than with municipal facilities. The city of Esslingen and the respective employers split the difference between the fees paid by the parents and the actual costs of day-care. Company kindergartens are also provided at Daimler, Bosch, the municipality and Klinikum Stuttgart.