Skip to main content

Inclusive Futures for Europe BEYOND the impacts of Industrie 4.0 and Digital Disruption

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BEYOND4.0 (Inclusive Futures for Europe BEYOND the impacts of Industrie 4.0 and Digital Disruption)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2019-12-31

BEYOND4.0 provides research based advice for policymakers and stakeholders on the impact, challenges and opportunities of the new digital technologies in relation to the future of work and welfare.
The digital revolution is disrupting our economies and societies. BEYOND4.0 focuses on a range of possible consequences of the digital revolution, many of which are already familiar concerns to policymakers: high unemployment, job and social polarization, problematic skills development, and a rise in populist politics. With these predicted negative consequences, it is not surprising that quick solutions are being offered as remedies: a Universal Basic Income, taxing the robots, more money for Industry. The solutions are attractive because of their simplicity and apparent decisiveness. It is here however that the real challenge lies, for these remedies are often offered without a robust evidence base about the nature and extent of digital disruption. How many will still exist once that evidence base is developed is a moot point.

BEYOND4.0 has five objectives: 1. Provide new, scientific insight into technological transformation; 2. Provide new, scientific insight into company strategies dealing with technological transformation; 3. Examine the impact of technological transformation on: a. quality, content, and distribution of work; b. skill needs; c. education and training; d. value creation by companies; 4. Identify policy options for: a. fiscal policy (e.g. robot taxes); b. welfare policy (e.g. basic income); 5. Identify social investment approaches and tools for inclusive growth.
BEYOND4.0 focuses on two main technological transformations: the digitization of production through automation/robotics (also referred to as ‘Industrie 4.0’, as Germany was first with this strategy), and the digitisation of work through the platform economy (also referred to as ‘Uberisation’). Both have the capacity to eradicate jobs: the first by substituting jobs with technology; the second by using technology to replace jobs with micro-tasks. Both can also make existing skills, tax and welfare systems ineffective. Indeed, the current scientific and policy discourse is dominated by predictions of mass unemployment. However, the new digital technologies offer also new opportunities for welfare and wellbeing.
"The kick-off meeting of BEYOND4.0 project was held on 14-16 January 2019 in Leiden (Netherlands) with the participation of the all partners of the project. First Grand Assembly meeting was also held and all management boards were staffed during the Kick-off meeting.
The project website, where one can subscribe to BEYOND4.0’s newsletter and download publications, has been launched on the 29th of March 2019 (accessible from two addresses: www.beyond4-0.eu and www.beyond4-0.org). Working relationships were established with two sister projects of the same H2020 call. Technequality will study how technological innovations will impact social inequality and labour market outcomes, while Plus will investigate how technology affects workers and the labour process in the platform economy of urban areas in a selection of European cities.

The first summer school was held in San Sebastian on 3-5 June 2019 (see http://www.beyond4-0.eu/events/1 ). All the information about the programme is published at this link: https://www.uik.eus/en/beyond40-summer-school-work-and-welfare-digital-age-what-we-know-and-what-more-we-need-know.

Several deliverables were produced in 2019, including the ""Guidance paper on key concepts, issues and developments"" (http://beyond4-0.eu/publications). This framework document describes the concepts, issues and developments that underlie the BEYOND 4.0 project and outlines how the research team will execute its statistical, case study and historical research. It also scoped out our areas of investigation: digitisation’s impact on the labour market, workplace skill development and utilisations, entrepreneurial business ecosystems, regional economies’ development, the representative organisations of labour and the impact on welfare and social security."
BEYOND4.0 generates its objectives by achieving : 1. Building on state-of-the-art research and other EU projects, 2. Using innovative methods, and 3. Combining historical, EU-wide, regional and company level data.
The project generates three new outcomes: 1. Scientific understanding of new technology impact; 2. Diagnostic and developmental tools to lever technological opportunities; 3. Evidence-based support for social and competitive EU policy strategy. BEYOND4.0 carefully disseminates and valorises results.
BEYOND4.0 will: 1. Better address challenges of the 4th industrial revolution in context of digitisation by providing alternative policy options; 2. Contribute to equitable, sustainable prosperity through scientific evaluations, co-creation and bottom-up solutions; 3. Contribute to UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2, 5, 8 and 9.
In conclusion, BEYOND4.0 provides insights and measures that help address poverty, equality, decent work, in formulating an alternative for a low-road Industry 4.0. approach, namely a high-road approach.

By achieving the five objectives BEYOND4.0 will positively impact 1. understanding of technological transformation, 2. successful identification of social investment policies, 3. enabling a robust European inclusive growth strategy, 4. creating a common understanding of new technologies, 5. strengthening innovation and wellbeing, and, in addition, 6. synergize research in this field across the whole of Europe.

Ultimately, BEYOND4.0 wants to identify and promote evidence-based ideas for how poverty can be reduced and more equality and decent work can be achieved in the digital age. We believe that these aims are shared by the public – and voters. The EU also considers these topics to be important policy issues for political as well as more practical reasons. A practical reason is that the EU needs to have a picture of what an unemployed future would mean, socially and economically.
Project logo