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Science Year 2018 – Working Life of the Future

Experience. Learn. Shape.

© BMBF/Wissenschaftsjahr 2018

The Science Year 2018 is devoted to the topic of “Working Life of the Future”. Digitalisation, alternative work models and the development of artificial intelligence are all creating major new opportunities and challenges for the research sector and for civilian society as a whole. How will people work in future? How will they get themselves up to speed? And what role will scientific and academic research play in helping to shape these new worlds of work?

“Science Years” are an initiative launched by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in conjunction with the initiative “Wissenschaft im Dialog” (WiD). They act as a major scientific communication vehicle to transport research into the public domain and to support dialogue between the research community and society.

The Science Year 2018 is set to show the influence which social and technical innovations will exert on the worlds of work of the future. It will highlight how these will both change our everyday working lives and establish new yardsticks for social policy debate. The motto for the event is “Experience. Learn. Shape.” Citizens will be encouraged to get involved, ask questions and work together to identify possible solutions.

Scientific and academic researchers will have a major contribution to make towards developing the new worlds of work. They are working at schools of higher education and at institutes all across Germany in a bid to find responses to the most urgent issues facing the working worlds of the future. How will technologies change work? How will work change technologies? What requirements will work make of people in the future? How will science alter work? Researchers are using the Science Year to join forces with the ordinary population in order to think outside the box and embrace the diverse and exciting worlds of work which are now impending.

BIBB’s contribution to the Science Year

The Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) will be providing support in its capacity as a partner of the Science Year 2018. Indeed, BIBB President Professor Friedrich Hubert Esser is a member of the initiative’s Advisory Committee. In addition to this, BIBB has also been designated as an official “future venue”. This role will involve organising various events and activities relating to the worlds of work of the future.

The main focus will be on looking at the digitalisation of the working world and assessing the ensuing consequences of this for vocational education and training. Terms such as “Industry 4.0”, “Economy 4.0” and “Vocational Education and Training 4.0” are frequently used to encapsulate these developments. The 2018 BIBB Congress will also focus on such topics under the banner of “Learning for the future. VET of tomorrow – experience innovations”.

However, the digitalisation of the world of work will bring further challenges in its wake. BIBB is currently examining the “polarisation thesis” within the context of its research work. A project on “Polarisation 4.0” was launched at the end of 2016. Its starting point is to examine whether an investigation into this issue conducted by Frey and Osborne (2013) is transferable to Germany. According to Frey and Osborne, more than half of occupational tasks in the USA will be replaced by machines in the future. Research results will be presented under the title of “Technological progress and worlds of work” in order to provide answers to questions such as what the nature of the shift will be and how change can be actively shaped.

“Innovative approaches towards future-oriented continuing vocational training” form the object of investigation for the national funding focus “InnovatWB”, which is also drawing up new possible approaches for future continuing training policy. As part of this programme, BIBB is also carrying out evaluation research for the “INNOWAS” project at the University of Aachen. An innovative concept for the imparting of knowledge in the areas of industrial installation and machine and plant operation will be developed and piloted by the end of 2018.

Further details and more information on the activities being undertaken by BIBB to support the Science Year 2018 are provided below.

Further information

Digital transformation of the world of work

The joint initiative of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) systemically examines qualifications for specialist staff and competencies for the digitalised world of tomorrow.

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