The gig economy, where permanent employment is replaced by temporary ‘gig’ employment, represents the future labor market and is growing in line with technical developments. Most analysts agree with this. Within five years, 45 percent of the workforce is expected to be working as freelancers and two-thirds of all managers will be allocating assignments online.
A natural consequence of the rapid development of technology
Behind the gig economy there are three clear driving forces; the digital technology that makes it all possible, the fact that companies need to be more flexible in terms of competence and a changed attitude by employees. The need for flexibility is also driven by a change in client behaviours. The gig economy is a natural consequence of the rapid development of technology coupled with the increasing need for specialist competence and niche consultants. The consultant-based workforce has therefore emerged as a growing part of the Swedish economy. The gig economy and technology development are inherently linked with each other.
Technology has enabled the gig economy and has made it difficult for modern societies to imagine a future driven by technology without consultants working in a gig environment. The way we live has changed. Many of us use our mobile phones, tablets and computers to manage our lives and there are no signs that this behavior is on the wane. On the contrary, many people are of the opinion that this is just the beginning of how we will be living our lives in the future. We have become strongly interconnected to social networks across the world. Over the past decade, this has led to a shift in how we work and spend our money. ‘Online’ is now where we find ‘gigs’, plan our time and buy our groceries. Technology has made us digital and changed the way we look at work and how it should be conducted. It has also changed the way companies view their need for resources, which means companies need to make themselves attractive through innovative job offers and programs.
Social ability is vital in the face of changing skill needs
The way we work is also impacted by demographic changes, such as population growth and changing age profiles across the world’s population, the rapid rate of urbanisation and the distribution of financial resources (PWC’s Global Megatrends). Within five years, 45 percent of the workforce is expected to be working as freelancers and two-thirds of all managers will be allocating assignments on-line (IDC, Strategy Analytic). Despite the fact that a growing percentage of future work tasks is expected to be automated, this does not mean that the need for competence will decrease. Automation and AI, on the other hand, will accelerate the shift of competence that the labor force needs to undergo.
The need for social, emotional and technological competencies is expected to double by 2030, (European Union Labour Force survey, McKinsey & Company Workforce skills Model & Global Institute analysis), while the need for physical and manual labour is dropping.
The individual is now responsible for lifelong learning
The future labor market will have an impact on all generations due to the fact that we have never before had so many generations competing for assignments at the same time in the market. The challenge for many companies is that they risk losing their skill base, which means that valuable individuals who excel at their work can call the shots and dictate their work situation. This has often resulted in a compromise between the companies and the individuals, where in many cases, instead of working for the company, they do business together.
The challenge for the individual, on the other hand, is that they are now responsible for something that the company has previously been in charge of, i.e. skills development. But in the gig economy and the future labor market, it is the individual who will be responsible for lifelong learning. It is you as an individual who has the basic obligation to ensure that you have the right competence, experience and capacity to represent that you are of value to the companies (World Economic Forum).
The gig economy requires flexibility, skills and speed
In summary, the gig economy will require flexibility, skills and speed. Companies will value the opportunity for innovation, as costs and working conditions will look similar across the world. We will see similar trends across all sectors, but in different forms of maturity (Toptal, Adecco, Deloitte – Global Human Capital Trends 2018).