By Matthias Werny | Union for Mining, Chemicals and Energy Industries (IG BCE) – Digitalised and networked production will have more and more impact on our daily lives. Jobs and working conditions will change. The question is how politics, science, business and society will handle this change: will they only react to what is coming, will they take it passively and just bear the consequences?

Or will they shape and control change on the basis of clear ideas and defined goals? The answers to that have to ensure that companies in Germany can continue to sell their products worldwide and that any technical progress will integrate the employees and challenge them more than ever. However, the social question of how to design and pay for work 4.0 must not be left unconsidered either. The future networking of humans, things, services, processes and data will dramatically change all aspects of our current value chain – from product development to service.

Future developments in the context of Work 4.0 present us with many opportunities but also with some risks.

Today’s jobs will be carried out by computers, jobs in new occupational fields will emerge and will have to be filled, and employees are already being confronted by new requirements for training and tasks. The workforce must reskill and continue their professional training. The future possibilities – autonomous means of transport or the fully automated manufacturing of very small batches – are just the beginning. That is why the issues of data protection and data security must also be kept in focus. This development includes many opportunities but also presents us with risks. The challenges can best be faced when businesses and trade unions work together. It is good to see that projects like the Innovation Laboratory Hybrid Services in Logistics address such issues in an integrated way – taking people, technology and organizations into consideration.

 May 2018

About the Author

Matthias Werny from the Union for Mining, Chemicals and Energy Industries (IG BCE), Westphalia district, had the opportunity to take a look into tomorrow‘s working environments during a visit to the innovation lab at the Innovation Laboratory Hybrid Services in Logistics at Fraunhofer.