Specialisation and the division of labour

Specialisation is when production is concentrated on particular goods and services. It has led to increased standards of living. Countries which are specialised can trade their goods/services with those of other countries.

The Division of Labour is a type of specialisation in which the production of a good is broken up into tasks carried out by different workers.

 

Advantages:

  • Workers become highly skilled at their particular task – increased efficiency.
  • No time is wasted moving from one job to another.
  • Capital machinery can be used continuously throughout the production process (e.g. production line) – greater mechanisation.
  • Less time spent training workers for specific tasks.
  • More choice – workers can specialise in a job they are most suited to.
  • Higher output/increased quality – increased variety.
  • Saving of equipment – each worker doesn’t need a full set of tools.

 

Disadvantages:

  • Repetition creates monotony/boredom – decreased motivation and efficiency.
  • High turnover of staff – recruitment/selection costs.
  • Easier to replace workers with machines – increased structural unemployment.
  • Interdependence – if one sector collapses it could affect an entire industry.
  • Less flexibility – difficult for workers to switch to performing other tasks when there is a need to cover for other workers or when demand changes.
  • Loss of skills – tasks are simple and mechanised.
  • Increased risk of unemployment – workers have limited skills – change in demand could mean that their skills aren’t needed ® unemployment.

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