Volkswagen has held its first Future Training Forum in Wolfsburg to discuss issues including the digitalization of its vocational training programmes and future learning environments. Conference participants included board members, human resources managers, training experts, Works Council members, young people’s representatives and apprentices, and Volkswagen plans to repeat this exercise each year at different plants.
Around 50 apprentices presented and explained some of the projects they were participating in, including e-learning on i-Pads they had received; the pilot ‘eKISS’ mobile maintenance project involving collaboration with IT specialists on app design, development and implementation; and the use of augmented reality goggles. AR goggles are being used in training procedures for directly targeted information and assistance, and are said to promote self-teaching skills. A further program underway is called Nano-Bug, and in this, apprentices are encouraged to develop an understanding of the latest digitalization technologies, including the programming of microcontrollers.
Works Council member Geraro Scarpino, chairman of the training committee, said in a statement: “Digitalization in training is not a theoretical game. On the contrary, it is digitalization that makes training closely oriented towards the current technological topics faced by the departments possible. This means that people moving from training to their departments do not suffer any shock when they are faced by practical requirements.”
AI for business administration
Volkswagen has also outlined how it is using artificial intelligence as part of its Group Digitalization/Business 4.0 strategy. In a blog post on its corporate website, Dr. Andreas Meier, responsible for the ‘smart enterprise’ strategy, outlines how AI is being used for ‘knowledge work’ within the Group.
“We want to speed up office and knowledge work,” Meier says. “Think of the reporting apparatus, for example. There’s a lot that can be automated there, for instance with robotic process automation (RPA) technology. Second, we want to liberate employees from repetitive tasks so that they can focus on important, value-creating things. Chatbots are good for this, as they allow users to clarify certain questions in a natural interaction with a program rather than with a person. Third, we want to make data more usable for our employees.”
Meier notes that his project team – founded in October 2016 – is primarily focused on administrative functions such as human resources, finance, procurement and quality assurance, but that its activities could also connect to logistics, quality and control or production.
Successful implementations so far include new software for the Idea Management department, developing a real-time search engine that identifies topics in employee ideas and proposals for time- and efficiency-saving, and whether these have been previously suggested or assessed. Projects are also underway in finance, procurement and IT, including chatbots for IT support.