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Transformation of the world of work

The world of work is constantly changing. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs takes this into account in its policy-making.

The process of change is driven by decarbonisation and digitalisation, demographic development and a perceptible change in society’s values. This concretely affects how workplaces function and how society will work in the future.

We call this the twin transition not only because the green and digital transformation occur at the same time. These processes are also interrelated. On the one hand, digital technologies can help to reduce emissions through energy efficiency and intelligent utilisation concepts. On the other hand, the rise of deep tech and data-based business models can lead to an increase of overall energy consumption.

In the area of digital transformation, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is monitoring the effects new technological and social trends are having on the world of work. The goal is to foresee developments, identify specific fields of action and indicate possible solutions for companies, workplaces and employees. The main objective of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is to actively influence the course of the digital transformation of the world of work.

At the same time, climate change calls for a comprehensive transformation of the current economic system towards fossil-free value creation. In 2021, the Federal Government has set the goal of net zero emissions by 2045 in the Climate Action Act. We can expect to see the effects of decarbonisation in all areas of the world of work. However, the negative effects tend to be concentrated in specific industries (e.g. energy intensive industry and fossil-based energy sectors), and regions (e.g. the coal mining regions). To implement a just transition, the Federal Ministry and German Government take action on several levels: structural support for the regions most affected by the transition, and multi-stakeholder processes to support those industrial sectors that are most affected.

In response to this twin transition, the National Skill Strategy was adopted in 2019 to enable all people to do the work of tomorrow. In 2022, an updated strategy was published. As lead ministries for this, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research have worked closely with the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the Federal Employment Agency, the social partners and the Länder in order to promote Germany as a nation of skilled labour. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is constantly working with all these actors to bring together all the continuing education and training programmes of the Federation and the Länder, to align them with the needs of employees and companies and to establish a new culture of continuing education and training. In November 2023, the first National Skills Conference will take place to further the debate on adult learning and engage a wider range of actors.

A rapidly changing world of work makes the active involvement of many stakeholders a necessity. The Policy Lab is bringing them together.

An important aspect of our approach is to have an exchange of ideas on specifics with people who have practical in-company experience. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs provides support to companies and their employees for developing, trying out and implementing their own ideas for creating good working conditions. The New Quality of Work Initiative (INQA) and the plan for company-level spaces for learning and experimentation are examples of our commitment to this. The Zukunftszentren (transformation hubs) focus on offering tailor-made counselling and training. By exchanging ideas with actors with practical experience, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs makes practical recommendations for action and determines what policies for the work of the future are needed.

To many questions raised by digital transformation the answers are neither one-size-fits-all nor conclusive. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has therefore set up an interdisciplinary, agile organisational unit, the Policy Lab Digital, Work & Society. It analyses technological and social trends with a view to how the society of 2040 will work, assembling a strategically oriented overview of the future of all processes relevant to labour and social policy. Together with representatives from the fields of research, practice and the social partners, it develops approaches to solutions for the future of work in our society. It is the result of the “Work 4.0” dialogue.

Further Information