Throughout the world of work, cyber-physical systems and digital networking are giving rise to new forms of work. These include changes in the length of people's working lives, and new employment arrangements and structures. These dynamic developments are grouped under the term "Work 4.0". This process presents both opportunities and challenges for the sphere of prevention. Prevention should not only monitor the process, but actively shape it.
Research and development
Demographic change: How will an ageing society cope with growing digitalization of the world of work? Topics addressed by the IAG include how cognitive training can improve mental fitness for coping with a continually changing working environment. Work itself should primarily be shaped by cognitive ergonomics in such a way that it has the effect of training workers and thereby inducing them to engage in lifelong learning. When all preventive measures for retaining a worker's fitness for work have been exhausted, a change in occupation can be one way of keeping them fit for work, and therefore fit for employment, longer. The IAG has conducted several projects to this end.
Mental stresses: The biggest impact of globalization and technical change is upon the organization of working hours, flexibility in the location and timing of work, and blurring of the boundaries between working and private life, notably greater reachability outside working hours. The consequences of change in these areas must be predicted and appropriate training opportunities planned and implemented. Mental stresses must also be considered during the design of human-machine interfaces.
Teaching and learning: In digitalized working and living environments, acquisition of the required skills, development of new competencies, lifelong learning and the application of new teaching and learning methods represent major challenges. At the same time, the form taken by training is becoming increasingly flexible, and can be adjusted to the needs of the individual. The IAG's training provision already includes digital training methods such as online seminars and various forms of e-learning.
Transport: In-plant transport and road safety will assume completely new forms owing to the interaction of people with highly automated, networked vehicles. This in turn will present many new opportunities, and not a few challenges. The focus in this change must lie upon the safety and health of all parties involved. To this end, possible implications of technology are being anticipated at the IAG in conjunction with the German Road Safety Council (DVR) and are being simulated and studied in our practical facilities and seminars.
Our view of technical and social change is not purely critical: we also aim to influence it constructively, and are doing so by making our expertise available to the German Social Accident Insurance Institutions. Our consulting activity extends here from risk assessments, through modern teaching and learning methods, to the shaping of work against the backdrop of demographic change, corporate health management, and road safety.
The changing world of work is a subject regularly addressed at IAG conferences and congresses, for example at the iga colloquium on working healthily, safely and longer, and the "Future of work" series. Topics such as "the future of learning" and "innovative learning and further education formats" are discussed at conferences. Since learning and training will increasingly be networked globally in the future and will therefore become more international in nature, the IAG is already offering training measures for foreign seminar groups and train-the-trainer measures outside Germany.