The digital world of work – Industry 4.0

From October 10 to 12, 2018, a seminar on "The digital world of work – Industry 4.0" took place in Milan, Italy, organized by FLC (Fondazione Luigi Clerici), with the support of EZA and the European Union.

The aim of the seminar was to analyse the digitization of the world of work, highlighting the importance, on the one hand, of promoting the transition to skilled and needs-based employment, and, on the other, addressing the impact on the number of workers and pay. In order to raise the topic of Industry 4.0 as an added value for social dialogue, speakers from various fields and countries have dealt with the topic from the point of view of vocational training and companies. It is crucial to understand how, for example, the educational role of schools and universities is strengthened, how to improve the experience of changing school and work, and how to prepare students for the skills that are essential for Industry 4.0. The need to train the current workforce to increase medium or low skills and close the IT gaps for most workers was also highlighted.

The seminar was presented by Dr Paolo Cesana (director of the Luigi Clerici Foundation / FLC) and Piergiorgio Sciacqua (co-chair of EZA). Piergiorgio Sciacqua introduced the participants globally to the topic, while Paolo Cesana explained how the FLC intends to deal with the topic. During this introduction, the expectations of the participants were also taken up.

Digitization and technology play an important role in the progress and automation processes. They can certainly be regarded as an opportunity because at this historical moment they are profound, but they must be watched with critical attention. It is also essential to recall the fundamental role of education, vocational training and employment policy in this area, as it is central to personal development and empowerment, not only for technical skills but also for social, creative, emotional and leadership qualities so that people can master technology development.

These aspects are essential, especially concerning the youth phase, when it comes to unfolding young people's inclinations so that integration into the world of work is successful. Close cooperation between school, university, business and trade unions is necessary as all these actors play an essential role in the education and employment of young people.

The topic "INDUSTRY 4.0: Added Value for Social Dialogue" was taken up with lectures on the following aspects:

    -     Industry 4.0: regional policy in the field of education and employment

    -     Education and industrial innovation

    -     Analysis of the international scenario and prospects

    -     The role of technology brands in industrialization processes

    -     Changes in the world of work in the digital age

    -     New business models in the digital economy

A roundtable on the different levels of digitization in the workplace highlighted Romanian, Portuguese, Serbian, Spanish, German and Lithuanian experiences.

At the end of the seminar, the following questions and issues for further examination of the topic were discussed:

Is there still work for everyone? What does the work of the future look like? How can we change society so that its members can better participate in shaping these changes?

Education is vital in this time of change. Both primary education and training need to be adapted to people's needs so that they receive adequate training to cope with the digitization of new technologies.

-For the future, many new qualifications need to be taught. Virtual intelligence will become essential: to ensure the ability to engage with others, continuous adaptive thinking to find solutions, intercultural competence, the ability to work in virtual environments and to cope with cognitive burdens.

-In the debate, the importance of professional experience and the development of vocational skills and virtual skills was highlighted. Young people preparing to start working life need to be encouraged to use all their experience in business, as they are essential not only for personal development but also for future work. The need for knowledge in several languages was also highlighted.

-The company is currently in a complicated situation as it is difficult to predict future development. We are in the midst of significant changes that challenge not only the world of work but the entire social fabric. The social market economy is a system based on integration rather than foreclosure, dialogue and not monologue; it must bring prosperity to everyone, not just some.

Digitization has also led to more competition and a global, supra-regional market. This competition, from which nobody can free themselves, put enormous pressure on the payment system and the social security system. Social dialogue has the task of solving these problems.