The confrontation of society with the challenges of adapting to technological development is centuries old – just as old is the debate about the mutual relationship between people, work and technology. However, due to digitalisation the permanent pressure for transformation has reached a velocity that was hitherto unknown.

At the same time, industrial companies and their employees are facing another enormous challenge: climate change and the resulting social consequences, especially with regard to energy policy and sustainable economic activity. This dual pressure of digital acceleration and ecological reappraisal can have a disruptive effect on established industrial production and work models, but it also offers opportunities for industrial modernisation and shaping good work.

This dual transformation is opening up a wide range of obligations relating to labour policy. In particular, a socially and democratically successful transformation includes securing income, social standards and professional development opportunities for all employees. Neither technological utopias nor dystopias are helpful in this respect – what is needed is a sound understanding of how the socio-technological development is unfolding in concrete terms. This varies from industry to industry and from company to company. The effects on work and employment are correspondingly broad.

The IG BCE Foundation for Labour and the Environment is focusing on two questions:

  1. How are value-chain-patterns, production structures and worlds of innovations changing in manufacturing in view of the dual transformation (digitalisation and sustainability), and how can industrial companies reposition themselves?
  2. How can we ensure good work in future in view of the current transformations and crises? Which adjustments do we need, for example in education and training systems within and outside companies?

The IG BCE Foundation for Labour and Environment of the IG BCE aims with its projects to contribute to a better understanding of the interdependence between people, work, society and technology.