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How Industry 4.0 influences education, work and technology


Everyone is talking about Industry 4.0 – the increasing digitization of production processes, the digital networking of people, machines and objects made possible by cyber-physical systems. New scenarios are being developed of how the world in general and our working world will develop in the future. In order to research the effects on employees, the Karlsruhe University of Education and the Karlsruhe University of Technology and Business are currently conducting a study supported by the Steinbeis Transfer Center Institute for Transfer Technologies and Integrated Systems SITIS and rst IT-Unternehmensberatung GmbH.

Studies have identified some central challenges that companies will have to face in the future if they want to remain competitive with regard to Industry 4.0 development: starting with technical innovations and changing production hierarchies to networking value chains and new business models. But what do these profound changes mean for the people in the companies?

The Steinbeis Transfer Center Institute for Transfer Technologies and Integrated Systems SITIS at the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences has in numerous industrial consultations and through the SITIS Academy offers deep insights into the working world of employees in companies in the tool and metal construction, medical and aerospace industries. and space technology won. These experiences largely coincide with the results of various studies. They can be summarized in the following central statements (for sources see info box):

  • The degree of utilization of new technologies is 40-60%.
  • The employees have not yet arrived in “Industry 2.0”.
  • The time for further training is becoming increasingly scarce.
  • In the training courses, employees often learn what they can already do.
  • In practice, “learning by doing” prevails, which is usually not targeted and structured.

Companies that want to face the challenges of Industry 4.0 are now under time pressure. The current tasks must be mastered and at the same time the future tasks must be taken into account. There are two further aspects: Due to the shortage of skilled workers, which will worsen in the future due to demographic development alone, the workload will be distributed over fewer shoulders in the future. In addition, the employees will also have to take on tasks for which they first have to acquire the necessary skills.

Humans are capable of learning, flexible and efficient. But only if the necessary conditions exist that strengthen his motivation and enjoyment of his work. According to current surveys, however, every second employee is of the opinion that they cannot bring their skills to bear at work. Not even a quarter of employees say that they have received recognition for their commitment and performance. If companies want to master future challenges with their team, then it is important to get their employees on board. In order for this to happen, however, diverse individual conditions such as age, ideas about the role models, degree of qualification and hierarchy levels must be taken into account as well as relevant and emotional aspects

In order to research these relationships, the Karlsruhe University of Education, the Karlsruhe University of Technology and Economics, the Steinbeis Transfer Center SITIS and the rst IT management consultancy are working together on the study “Education – Work – Technology”. A method developed by Steinbeis and rst is used here, which enables companies to define the main tasks of the current development – for example in connection with Industry 4.0 – with the participation of employees.

The evaluation of the data should enable statements about

  • the main tasks of the company and how these are seen by its employees,
  • Relationships between the age structure, problem areas and associated affective aspects,
  • Goals and values ​​as striven for and represented by employees in connection with the problem areas.

In addition, the companies receive time series analyzes of the development of goals and values ​​from the point of view of the employees as well as the problem areas within the value chain. Based on the results of the study, the companies can define their strategies for action. Because employees are actively involved in the survey of the main tasks, they can contribute directly to the implementation of the solutions that are considered necessary for the further development of a company.

Digitization: Opportunity or Challenge? A matter of attitude!

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