The Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB), the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) and the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) jointly organised the fourth international TASKS Conference from September 7-9, 2016, in Mannheim. Around 70 national and international researchers attended the event and discussed labour market adjustments to digitalisation and the future of work. Among the highlights of the event were the keynote speeches held by leading international researchers. In addition, the participants had the opportunity to visit a factory of Pepperl+Fuchs, a company specialised in sensor manufacturing and process automation.

Prof. Dr. Guy Michaels at the keynote at ZEW
Prof. Dr. Guy Michaels presented current research findings on the influence of robotics at work.

During the conference, a special emphasis was placed on the way labour markets adapt to digital change and how current trends, such as Industry 4.0, will change the future of work. "The questions surrounding the implications of the digital work environment are among the most pressing ones in research and policy advising," emphasised Junior Professor Melanie Arntz, acting head of the Research Department "Labour Markets, Human Resources and Social Policy", in her opening speech.



Renowned guests discuss labour market effects of robotics

A total of 32 economists and sociologists, whose work had previously been reviewed by an international scientific committee, presented their latest research on the digitalisation of the work environment. Furthermore, the participants were provided with valuable impulses from three keynote speeches by leading international researches from the fields of economics and robotics. Professor Guy Michaels from the London School of Economics presented his current research findings on the influence of robots at work. As part of his analysis for 17 countries, Michaels was able to show that the use of robots has a positive effect on the productivity and value added of firms. Providing latest insights from the field of robotics in her keynote speech, Junior Professor Verena Nitsch from the University of the Federal Armed Forces Munich shed light on the challenges of robotics for the future of work. Among other things, she discussed the increasing interaction between man and machine in the age of Industry 4.0. Professor Alan Manning, also from the London School of Economics, spoke about the impact of technology and globalisation on labour markets. In his speech he addressed both new technological developments and challenges for politics and research.

Experiencing Industry 4.0 at Pepperl+Fuchs

At the end of the conference, the participants were invited to jointly visit a factory of Pepperl+Fuchs GmbH. The Mannheim-based company is known to be a forerunner and innovator in terms of sensor manufacturing automation on a global scale. Furthermore, Pepperl+Fuchs has acquired extensive expertise in the field of process automation. Gunther Kegel, the company's CEO, provided his guests with practical insights into the application of Industry 4.0, before continuing the tour with a visit to the production facilities.

2018 TASKS Conference at the BIBB in Bonn

The TASKS Conference was first organised in 2010 and has since become an international platform to discuss and present current findings from labour market research on the implications of digitalisation. The event was initiated by IAB and the BIBB. ZEW joined this network in 2014. The fifth TASKS Conference will take place in Bonn in 2018. The call for papers will open at the beginning of 2018.

Junior Professor Verena Nitsch at the keynote at ZEW
Junior Professor Verena Nitsch shed light on the challenges of robotics for the future of work.
Prof. Dr. Alan Manning at the keynote at ZEW
Prof. Dr. Alan Manning spoke about the impact of technology and globalisation on labour markets.


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