Video: “Hyperspecialization” is Coming



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The current challenge in finding skilled manufacturing employees is probably the prelude to a much more dramatic shortage. In economies around the world, the retirement of Baby Boomers will lead to more and more retirees being supported by fewer and fewer in the workforce, until the ratio bottoms out at fewer than 2 working people for every 1 retiree. What will that future look like? Sandvik Coromant produced this short film to explore the question from a manufacturing perspective. By 2020, the video says, manufacturing will be short 85 million skilled workers—if nothing changes.

Of course, things will change. Industry’s adaptation to the shrinking employee pool will not be complete by 2020, but it will be well underway. The scenario this video foresees is hyperspecialization.  In the past, companies outsourced work in search of low cost.  In the future, companies will outsource in search of labor efficiency—by allowing different people and organizations in different places to do the specific work at which they are the very best.

There are various implications of such a shift. One is a continuing move to “modular learning,” the video says. Rather than seeking employees with broad, comprehensive degrees, employers will seek employees who are knowledgable in key, highly focused areas, and who can continually refine that knowledge by attaining new skills or understanding as needed.

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