Think tanks, government officials and everyone in between are trying to get a handle on the gig economy. That is the freelance and contractor economy. There are studies that claim that by 2020, in excess of 40 percent of the U.S. labor force will be self-employed. I’ll leave it to the experts to debate their methodologies and what percentage of our workforce is now independently employed.
However, I will say that by one measure, IRS 1099 (independent contractors) forms have increased in the 2000s. So too have those who are filing Schedule C’s (self-employment) on their tax forms.
The Trends and Forces
One of the most debated studies was one published by Intuit. And whether or not we are going to be at 50 percent, 30 percent or less, the fact of the matter is that we are heading toward a workforce that indeed will be much more flexible. It’s on everyone’s shoulders to understand the trends and changes that are happening in the hiring landscape. I think several of the points from this particular study are absolutely on point.
- Tech Generations: We live in a digital world full of technology. That means that everyone is, in fact, competing with the younger generations who’ve had technology in their entire lives. And each generation that grows into adulthood will only be better at technology and able to adapt quicker.
- Baby Boomers Are Not Bowing Out: On the other side of the spectrum, we’re living in a world where the more senior generation is not bowing into retirement. Boomers are indeed pursuing new careers and starting their own businesses. They are active and they are not retiring. In other words, they are also competition.
- The Rise of the Voice of Women: In a globalized world, and one that is wired and networked there is a move for women all over the planet to take on leadership roles. As stated by Booz & Company, over 870 million women around the globe are entering the workforce or starting new businesses. These women were not part of the economy that existed as late as the early 2000’s.
- The Glocal World: We’re living in a wired and connected world. I don’t think there’s any dispute about that. But as more people enter the conversations, that means the world is not going to be dominated, as it was for so many years, by Western ideas and culture. There is going to be a greater focus on demonstrating to the world how local cultures and countries around the world do business.
- Cities Bring Opportunities: As more and more people enter the global economy they will seek opportunities that are available to them in urban centers. So populations will continue to move to cities.
- Social Networking: We see this time and time again. Social media, at its core, is social networking. That means that more people will be obtaining their information and work opportunities using social networking (e.g. social media).
- Individuals Will Be Responsible for Themselves: I think one of the most important points is this reality. Gone are the days where workers were protected by a company (or government). Individuals are the masters of their own careers and opportunities. That means that it falls on the workers, not employers and not governments that are cutting social services, to find their own work path, health insurance and retirement.
Wayne Elsey is the Founder and CEO of Wayne Elsey Enterprises (WEE), a company that works with social enterprise organizations, nonprofits and companies on strategy, branding, development and education.