MTM – Work design productive and safe

Workshop on “Turning Places of Work into Places of Learning” at the GfA Spring Congress

Focusing on factors to promote learning

The MTM Institute, working with the FIR at RWTH Aachen University, the Institute for Innovation and Technology (iit) at VDI/VDE Innovation + Technik GmbH and the Executive Board of the IG Metall union, organized a workshop entitled “Turning Places of Work into Places of Learning: Ways of Designing Work to Promote Learning in the Digital Working World”; this took place as part of the spring conference of the Gesellschaft für Arbeitswissenschaft (Human Factors and Ergonomics Society) held in Switzerland on 14 – 16 February 2017.

The workshop participants shared their experiences on organizing work to promote learning and also picked up some new ideas. It is true that work in cyber-physical systems (CPS) in a digitized world requires multi-faceted qualifications. At the same time, these systems open up new opportunities for individual and organizational learning and have the potential to counteract any possible polarization in qualifications, which is currently being discussed in conjunction with the increase in digitization and automation. Strategies and methods of learning related to work start here. However, they require premises and general conditions, which relate to what is necessary in work systems to enable them to encourage learning – i.e. those conditions, which promote learning processes in everyday work or create conditions that are favorable for learning.

Although the process of learning at work and the promotion of learning have been the subject of research for many years, the practical ability to organize things to promote learning in a digitized work world is rarely encountered at corporations. This was evident, for example, in the technology-dominated discussions about assistance systems for Industry 4.0. The aim of the workshop was therefore to work out which factors encourage and prevent the promotion of learning, how the spread of appropriate approaches can be advanced and which players and cooperation arrangements are necessary for this; the workshop was held with the help of experts from the academic world, corporations, unions and associations.

The results of the workshop are currently being assessed by the partners and will make their way into the joint paper produced by the VDI/VDE-GMA specialist committee 7.22 entitled “Working World in Industry 4.0.”

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