After interviewing many high-level experts from Industry, the results are obvious: Industry 4.0’s workforce will be more agile and will have to make more decisions. Flexible, in-situ access to information and support for learning are essential.
Digitization of industry changes significantly the way how employees work (McKinsey, 2015). However, literature focuses very much on the technical questions of digitization and pays little attention to the human-related aspects (Thalmann et. al, 2017KC). We conducted an interview study in order to explore how decision makers in large manufacturing companies perceive the impact of digitization on industrial work and as a consequence on learning. We conducted 24 Interviews with executives from large manufacturing companies from Austria (14), Germany (7), Italy (1), Liechtenstein (1) und Switzerland (1).. All interviewees perceive the changes induced by digitization as challenging, and agree that a more agile workforce is needed. To be more agile, workers have to learn more, in shorter intervals and more and more ad-hoc at the workplaces itself. Here, a shift to flexible training concepts focusing on workplace learning and a need for suitable learning technology was noticed. For this purpose, organizations currently use smartphones and tablets to implement mobile learning technologies and they evaluate augmented and virtual reality technologies for a more work-integrated learning experiences. A second major trend is decentralization of decisions. This in turn means that workers need to have access to information relevant to decision-making. Subsequently, i) actionable data analytics become relevant directly within the production process and ii) industrial workers also need professional training and learning in order to meet such skill requirements (Thalmann & Pammer-Schindler, 2017KC).