TVET plays crucial role in ‘Industry 4.0’
Professor Dr Georg Spottl from the Centre of Technology, Work and TVET at the University of Bremen delivered a presentation as one of the invited speakers at the TVET International Conference 2016 that was held at the International Convention Centre recently.
Professor Spottl’s presentation was entitled ‘Sustainability and Competence through TVET in the Age of Industry 4.0’ and he began by speaking about the role of man in Industry 4.0 and consequences for teacher training and TVET.
He highlighted what he called “The four stages of the industrial revolution up to Industry 4.0”.
The first stage of industrial revolution came with the introduction of water- and steam-powered mechanical manufacturing facilities at the end of the 18th Century.
He cited the first mechanical loom in 1784.
The second industrial revolution was at the start of the 20th Century, following the introduction of electrically powered mass production based on the division of labour.
He noted that the first production line in Cincinnati slaughterhouses in 1870.
The third industrial revolution came about at the start of the 1970s, through the use of electronics and IT to achieve further automation of manufacturing.
The fourth industrial revolution is going on today, he said, which is where ‘Industry 4.0’ comes into play. The current industrial revolution is based on cyber-physical systems, he shared.
Networked machines and human beings now cooperate in decision making, he said, noting that Industry 4.0 brings with it a new situation for employees.
In this new situation, there are more flexible production systems, with shorter cycles, shorter delivery times, optimised management of stocks, more flexible working times and more flexible tasks.
Additionally, Industry 4.0 means that “Human intervention is no longer necessary”, it was highlighted in the presentation, while there is also improve co-decision of skilled workers regarding their own working times.
Industry 4.0 also means masses of data, the handling of data, and complete control of processes, while it also means a dissolution of work boundaries and that working time is simply a variable within the complex optimisation plan of a factory.
Today’s intelligent information systems and computers are capable of making decisions independently, he said, adding that this leads to a new quality in the division of labour between man and machine.
As such, he highlighted that three questions are highly relevant: (1) How much technology is adequate? (2) How much Human involvement may (still) remain? (3) How can the three dimensions of sustainability be secured?
He explained that the three dimensions of sustainability are: economic efficiency (sustainable economic development); ecological compatibility (stable environmental compatibility); and social responsibility (global justness).
He spoke of new concepts for sustainability and Industry 4.0, saying, “For the involvement of people, sustainable dimensions and smart technologies are needed to ensure that the society of the future is still under man’s control and remains to be humane.”
Professor Spottl then shared two possible scenarios, beginning with the Automation scenario, which explained is the “limitation of the autonomy of accomplished skilled workers by the emergence of advanced technology in plants and machines.”
In this scenario, technology is applied in order to automate processes, but noted that sustainability with the three dimensions is limited.
The second scenario is what he called the Expert scenario, which involves the development of expert systems as a tool for qualified skilled workers.
“Should the development proceed in the direction of the expert scenario and should human beings maintain their capability of shaping work-processes and carrying responsibility?”
“In this case technology could be employed as a kind of assistance system. Sustainability with the three dimensions might play an important role,” he said.
He then spoke on TVET’s contribution for achieving sustainable development and the basis of man’s role in monitoring work-processes.
“We need binding guidelines for TVET curricula which enable the individual to act with integrity and competently at the place of work,” he said.
He highlighted the importance of “the development of shaping competences in a way that engineers are willing to develop environmental and human-friendly machines and practitioners are able to control these machines.”
Professor Spottl underlined the need to move towards advanced curricula through the introduction of intelligent work-process based standards.
“In the Age of Change, we are concerned with the meta-orientation marks for the development of TVET,” he said, noting that there are two meta-orientation marks which need to be followed.
First, “From mastering ‘narrow skills’ we need to shift our emphasis to mastering ‘broad competences’, or in other words, from concentrating at specific ‘work’ we need to shift to incorporating change by concentration on ‘work-processes’.
Second, “From focusing on ‘vocational education’, as straightforward vocational preparation, we need to shift our focus to the ‘stages of vocational development’ as an individual’s lifelong process of building one’s career and implementing sustainability and control of man over technology by incorporating shaping responsibility.”