The “Centre for Digital Work” (German term: “Zentrum digitale Arbeit”, abbreviated to “ZdA”) is part of the ESF and Federal Programme “Hubs for tomorrow”. The lead partner of the project is ARBEIT UND LEBEN Sachsen.
We support the “regional hubs for tomorrow” in Eastern Germany and ensures the systematic transfer of knowledge from the “regional hubs for tomorrow” to the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (“BMAS”).
Demographic and digital changes have a profound impact on the changing world of work. The rapidly advancing digitalisation creates new opportunities and growth prospects for businesses. Artificial intelligence (AI) and learning systems are introduced increasingly in the workplace, but the implementation processes are neither iterative nor linear. Technological advancements revise jobs on a task-level and thereby also associated competences and qualification profiles. Especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and their employees require advice on matters regarding the digitally driven evolution of the world of work.
The recently established “hubs for tomorrow” in the eastern German states (“Länder”) Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (MV), Brandenburg (BB), Saxony (SN), Saxony-Anhalt (ST) and Thuringia (TH) are based on this idea. They are funded by the European Social Fund (ESF).
In the federal government’s AI strategy, it has been announced to expand the model of the “hubs for tomorrow” across Germany. The focus of the federal programme “hubs for tomorrow (AI)” is to empower companies (especially SMEs) and employees in shaping digital change, especially with regards to AI-based systems.
The overarching objective of the programme is to support companies in introducing digital technologies and AI-based systems in a participatory and co-creative manner and to design these together with their employees. By means of needs-based knowledge acquisition and transfer as well as the development and testing of innovative learning approaches, SMEs and their employees as well as self-employed persons are supported in their competence to shape change. Thereby they strengthen their performance and competitiveness.
The main challenge is to make knowledge about the modes of operation of AI-based systems available and accessible for the companies’ own application, to design the implementation process in a participation-oriented manner and to impart necessary skills.
In each eastern German state, one “regional hub for tomorrow” has been established as part of the ESF programme.
As part of the federal programme, several regional “hubs for tomorrow” will be established in the western German “Länder” and Berlin. The aim is to achieve nationwide coverage, i.e. also establish “hubs for tomorrow” that operate across regional borders and reach SMEs and employees in the whole country.
The “regional hubs for tomorrow” include two main areas of action: a platform module and an AI introductory module.
Within the so-called platform module the “hubs for tomorrow” analyse the various regional challenges and needs with regards to digital and demographic change. They address companies with tailored information and qualification offers. The aim is to promote self-learning and design-skills of companies, especially SMEs and their employees.
To do so, the “hubs of tomorrow” use regional and needs-based knowledge acquisition, knowledge transfer and networking activities to strengthen companies’ competitiveness in times of change. This corresponds to the original approach of the “hubs for tomorrow” in Eastern Germany.
As part of the so-called AI introductory module, SMEs are supported in introducing human-centred AI-based systems in a participatory and co-creative manner together with their employees.
Additionally, the “hubs for tomorrow” aim to impart methodological skills for designing these introductory processes of AI-based systems. Recommendations, guidelines and tools of the focus group “Artificial Intelligence in the World of Work” and the “Observatory AI in Work and Society” are being tested directly in companies by means of practical operational measures. Both, the focus group and the observatory have been initiated by the BMAS to foster research in these areas.
To align the two programmes, the ESF programme was recently expanded to include the AI introductory module.
One coordinating “Centre for Digital Work” supports the “regional hubs for tomorrow” in Eastern Germany, by processing and making available overarching research knowledge on digital and demographic change in the labour market.
It also ensures the systematic transfer of knowledge from the “regional hubs for tomorrow” to the BMAS, thus providing an opportunity for a continuously evolving labour market policy.
To support self-employed in shaping digital change, a “house of the self-employed” was established as part of the ESF programme. It supports the establishment of interest groups and promotes self-regulatory processes that are suitable for improving the remuneration and working conditions of self-employed and platform workers.