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The Gig Economy is Here to Stay

The traditional way of working was to have one job, often stay at the same company for your entire career, work hard and then retire - now, however, it is increasingly popular to be self-employed.

The Labour Force Survey stated that since 2008 the numbers of freelancers have increased from 1.40m to 1.91m - a 36% rise, and according to an article by Forbes, by 2020 50% of the U.S workforce will be freelancers.

So who are these freelancers and why are they in high demand? 

The need for short-term, specialised skills

This is especially seen in the recent demand for data scientists and strategy and management consultants. The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed states that freelancers are typically ‘highly-skilled, specialised individuals’. These ‘experts’ are not needed all year round but can come on board for specific projects. Businesses also use freelancers, like those specialised in commercial analytics and the consulting skill-set, as an alternative to completely outsourcing projects to a consultancy. This is viewed as a good option when projects are smaller in nature and don’t necessarily demand a higher investment. 

Remaining competitive and adaptable

The rise in highly skilled, on-demand workers offers organisations a huge opportunity to ensure that they remain competitive and adaptable. They are able to tap into expert skills at short notice and work with individuals who have had a breadth of experience across a broad range of consulting projects and industries. It also enables smaller businesses to inject a highly in-demand set of skills into their businesses without the monetary and time-related strains of permanent recruitment. 

Staying flexible

Freelancing is increasingly becoming a popular lifestyle choice – it offers a wider portfolio of business engagements combined with the ability to exercise personal control over your working hours. It can also be a more risky path for some as work is not always guaranteed. However, day rates can be lucrative, and it can enable individuals to have a healthier work/life balance. Data from the IPSE shows that the number of mothers working as freelancers has increased 70% since 2008 - this is approximately double the rate of the workforce as a whole and it is predicted to grow even faster.

Economic benefits

In terms of the wider economy, self-employment has also been linked to the economic upturn - in 2015 the Association of Independent Professionals and Self Employed stated that freelancers contribute approximately £109 billion to the UK economy. The Office for National Statistics stated that ‘the performance of the labour market and the growth of self-employment have been among the defining characteristics of the UK’s recent economic recovery’. Given the economic benefits of this workforce, could the rise in self-employment help us to get us through the uncertain future of Brexit and should the government be thinking more about how they can support this group of individuals?

At Freshminds we have noticed a 28% increase in the number of interim placements from 2015 to present. In terms of sectors, we have seen a marked increase in demand from professional services as the requirement to include subject matter or industry expertise on projects is becoming more prominent. Alongside this, we have also created an Analytics team, to focus on the rising request for data strategists.

We’d love to hear your thoughts! @FMTalent