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European Year of Skills

Insights from research: inclusive growth beyond Industry 4.0

This article looks into one of the research projects from the Cordis results package dedicated to the European Year of Skills. Let’s take a closer look at BEYOND4.0, a research project examining the impact of new technologies on future of jobs, business models and welfare. 

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Industry 4.0 – is there room for inclusive growth? 

Industry 4.0 is a new form of manufacturing, which relies on increasing digitisation, automation and data exchange through technologies such as sensors, robotics, machine learning, and AI. The question whether such industry transformation leads to massive job losses has been a subject of heated debates. However, the BEYOND4.0 project found that, with the right approach to the deployment of new technologies, companies can help promote inclusive growth. 

BEYOND4.0 investigated how companies can deploy new technology in a way that creates jobs and inclusive growth. Project researchers distinguished two types of companies – ‘learning organisations’ and those primarily focusing on quick profits. The former focus on promoting learning on the job and empowering employees with new knowledge that fosters product innovation and professional growth. The latter, on the other hand, focus solely on maximising profits, which often comes at the expense of employees and society. The project found that the risk of job destruction concerns mainly the latter type of companies. It concluded that, to ensure that the digital revolution leads to more and better work, companies must ensure that employees are given the opportunity to learn and acquire new skills.   

‘Interacting skills’ are essential to digital transformation 

Although it is commonly assumed that digital skills are most important to keep up with digital transformation and Industry 4.0, the project found that ‘interacting skills’, in combination with digital skills, play an important role. While technical skills are of course needed, methodological, social and problem-solving skills are as essential for future of jobs, business models and welfare. 


The BEYOND4.0 project is one of the 13 projects showcased in the Cordis result pack dedicated to the European Year of Skills. The projects were funded through Horizon 2020 programme. The pack aims to contribute to an evidence-based debate on the challenges associated with skills development, such as ensuring that skills are relevant to societal needs, matching the aspirations and skill sets of job seekers to opportunities in the labour market, assessing the impact of new technologies and increasing the attractiveness of the EU market to workers from abroad.   

Horizon 2020 was the EU's research and innovation funding programme from 2014-2020, with a budget of nearly €80 billion. The programme has been succeeded by Horizon Europe, with a budget of €95.5 billion, which is the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation.