Lecture series

The conference agenda

The aim of the conference was to take stock and discuss the risks, opportunities, and challenges for human resources in the aviation industry with regard to digitalisation and Industry 4.0. Input provided by experts from the aviation industry and academia, trade unions, and the IT and education sectors added to the success of the day.


Impressions from the conference

First of all, to give you an insight into an inspirational day at the Center of Applied Aeronautical Research (ZAL), here are some impressions from the conference.

Opening & welcome

Jan Balcke, Head of Vocational Training at Airbus Operations GmbH and HR 4.0 project manager, and Prof. Dr. Christoph Igel, Scientific Director of the Educational Technology Lab at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), opened the conference by providing an overview of key questions concerning the “Factory of the Future” and HR 4.0. From technological changes and new qualification requirements to changing demands on managers and evolving workforce structures – what does Industry 4.0 mean for a global company like Airbus? The presentation covered key aspects of the HR 4.0 project as well as the way forward in cooperation with external project partners.

Marco Wagner, Senior Vice President Human Resources and Member of the Board of Management, welcomed participants and began by stating Airbus’ proposition and belief that digitalisation will secure employment in Europe in the long term. This opportunity must be recognised and promoted on a continuous basis.

In his welcome address, Klaus Ahlborn (Central Works Council) explained that Industry 4.0 can only be implemented successfully if employees are continuously involved and engaged in the process of technological change, which means that the impact on people should always be considered first. For the Airbus sites, technological change is an opportunity and a necessity at the same time.

Other lectures

In his presentation, Dr. Thomas Lange from acatech talked about skills development 4.0 and acatech’s HR platform, which brings together chief HR officers and experts from academia to discuss the future world of work. He began by arguing that HR cannot be considered as a consequence of transformation but rather as its starting point, adding that, naturally, HR and transformation are always mutually dependent.

The lecture given by Klaus Herrmann (FESTO Learning Centre) focused on the initial situation, process models, and fields of action related to the organisational implementation of Industry 4.0.

The presentation by Dr. Constanze Kurz (head of the “Future of Work” department at IG Metall) entitled “People 4.1 – starting points and perspectives for developing a work-oriented approach for shaping the future of work” was based on the assumption that what is really new about digital transformation is integration, i.e. integration inside a company as well as outside a company along all of its value chains. The third level of integration consists in new business models and platforms. This new quality of integration will provide fresh impetus to all domains of work.

In his lecture on learning and research factories, Prof. Dr. Dieter Kreimeier from Ruhr University Bochum (RUB) explored the challenges presented by Industry 4.0, growing demands on employees, and the importance of qualification in a realistic production environment.

Dr. Carsten Ullrich provided an insight into the current state of the art in the field of assistance and knowledge services, in particular those assistance processes that take place at a higher cognitive level – from problem solving to knowledge processing.


Jan Balcke, Head of Vocational Training at Airbus Operations GmbH and HR 4.0 project manager, wrapped up the day with a presentation of the HR 4.0 roadmap.