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Human capital for Industry 4.0. How firm’s employment strategies affect workforce competence enhancement and labour market mobility

Research project On a daily basis, we come across news about how technological breakthroughs are changing our everyday lives. Self-driving cars, social robots and digital interfaces are transforming the conditions for companies and industries. But the existing literature says very little about what these technological transformations mean for employees at the workplace level.

This project aims to create a deeper understanding for the consequences of technologies for individuals in the labor market by examining how companies' staffing strategies handle the effects of the transformation. The focus is on the Swedish manufacturing industry and advanced industrial services sector

Project overview

Project period:

2020-01-01 2022-12-31

Funding

4,3 million SEK, FORTE – Forskningsrådet för hälsa, arbetsliv och välfärd

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Geography

External partners

Martin Henning University of Göteborg, Ola Bergström University of Göteborg

Research area

Human geography

Project description

On a daily basis, we come across news about how technical breakthroughs change our everyday lives. Self- driving cars, 3D printing, social robots and digital interfaces are expected to change the conditions for companies and industries. Technological development is also expected to have dramatic effects on the labor market. Jobs will be taken over by robots, new occupations will emerge and employees need to be trained to be able to keep their jobs.

But the existing literature says little about what the technological transformation means for employees at workplace level. The effects of technology tend to be exaggerated or dramatized, creating both false hopes and unfounded fear. Our working life also seems pre-determined by the technological development, without taking into account the ability of people and organizations to (re-)design the use of technology in the daily work.

This project therefore aims to create a deeper understanding of the consequences of technologies for individuals in the labor market, by examining how firms' employment strategies handle the effects of the transformation. The project focuses on the Swedish manufacturing industry and advanced manufacturing-related service sector. How do companies develop their skills resources in times of technological change? What new demands are placed on the employees? What are the consequences for workers? These are important questions to answer, in order to understand the challenges that technological development creates for different groups in the labor market, and how these challenges can be met.

The project will combine quantitative statistical surveys and qualitative case studies. Overall, the project is expected to make significant contributions in the labor market and organizational research fields. The project is also expected to have applied significance, for example by better illustrating how new technologies affect educational needs and labour market transition policies.