The 21st century is the age of digitalisation and marks the beginning of the fourth industrial revolution. The networking of a wide variety of end devices and sensors enables a constant exchange of information and thus the potential for automation and optimisation of numerous work processes. In this context, we also speak of the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0. Technological advances will change job profiles in almost every industry, but will never be able to completely replace people. Special knowledge and skills in dealing with digital technologies will undoubtedly become a central competence in many areas. Digitalisation is also making its way into traditional craft industries such as construction and is changing the world of work. Nevertheless, the temporal change of craft occupational profiles appears underrepresented in the public debate on digitalisation.

At the same time, various education and communication projects by the IZT and the Wuppertal Institute have shown that there is a great demand from educational institutions for "hands-on science", especially in the field of digitalisation, because the influence of innovative information technology on traditional professions such as the skilled trades usually receives less public attention. This is how the idea for the DigiHand project came about within the framework of the Science Year 2018 "Working Worlds of the Future", in which a touring exhibition was developed in cooperation with Fraunhofer FOKUS and the TU Berlin that shows how digitalisation will change various skilled trades today and in the future. Eight learning stations were designed that invite visitors to try things out and illustrate the potential of digitalisation in everyday crafts. Examples include printing out a small plastic spare part on a 3D printer or assembling an electric circuit with the help of augmented reality.

The central aim of the exhibition was to sensitise young people to digitalisation and to show them how developments that actually originate in other areas will also influence their very practical everyday working lives. In doing so, we started from the hypothesis that the skilled crafts sector is only a small target group for digitalisation in relation to global consumers. It is therefore important that the skilled crafts sector approaches digitalisation and learns to use it. Learners need to acquire more digital competences in order to make better use of their professional skills and abilities and to continuously learn about new things. At the same time, their positive relationship with the smartphone should show how an object of their free time also influences the world of work.

The primary target group of the exhibition was therefore trainees in vocational training and school leavers who wanted to find out about occupations. The secondary target group was trainers (vocational school or company), who were to be shown new developments in digitalisation with reference to the skilled crafts and everyday life relevant to the skilled crafts. The third group was the teachers in their function as multipliers, who can also be found at training fairs, in the BBZs and at guilds. These target groups meet at training fairs and at craft events.

The eight learning stations were not designed to be occupation-specific, but broadly based for many skilled trades. The content covered the following topics:

  • Smart Learning - A Digital Learning Companion for Craft Education (FOKUS - Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems)
  • Augmented Reality - Interior Design Planning (TU Berlin, IWF - Institute for Machine Tools and Factory Management)
  • 3D Printing - Printing a Spare Part on Site (TU Berlin, IWF - Institute for Machine Tools and Factory Management)
  • Augmented Reality - The Virtual Instruction Manual (TU Berlin, IWF - Institute for Machine Tools and Factory Management)
  • Machine Translation - Translations with the Smartphone (IZT)
  • Smart Speaker - Voice Assistants in the Office (IZT)
  • Smartphone as a lifesaver - Accident on the construction site (Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy)
  • Smart Home - Intelligent Control at Home (Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy)

This project was supported by the BMBF under the funding code 01WJ1808A.