The Freelance Economy: Work for Everyone
For some years, the tech sector, small businesses and others have been talking about a labor shortage. A report by the Conference Board confirmed their fears and predicts that the there will be labor shortages for the next 10 plus years across a wide swath of industries and regions across the country. With unemployment in the 5% range and going down, and initiatives for reducing skilled immigrants by half being debated in the government, it should not come as surprise that employers can’t find the skilled workers they need.
At the same time, the freelance economy is now over 30% of our labor force. Though largely created by of the 2008 recession, this new economy is also turning out to meet the needs of both employers and Millennials--flexibility, balance, purpose. Independent contractors with different kinds of work and benefits arrangements now make up a significant part of the workforce of many well-known companies.
But here’s the thing. Millennials only solve part of the shortage. They are smart, and talented, clever and innovative, and hungry and eager to be sure. But they lack skills and experience that have been developed over time and tested. And there aren’t enough of them.
There's an easy fix. Add retired people to the mix and the freelance economy is the perfect solution for everyone.
Businesses get skilled, experienced labor directed to specific needs with a specific time frame, without having to worry about bulging payroll expenses that they will have trouble pulling back from if/when the need goes away. Millennials will have the advantage of an even more diverse workforce with a whole new coterie of role models and mentors to learn from. (Initially, Millennials may not see the need for role models and mentors. But, after a few years working, we've seen many change their minds.)
And then there is us. Statistics say that well over 30% of us still want to do some kind of “work.” We don't want do depend on others, we want to participate. We also want flexibility--whether it be the duration, the nature of the work, compensation, who we would be working with, whatever. Check that box too. The new economy solves that problem.
So what do we want? We want businesses--large and small--to think bigger when they are looking to fashion their new workforce. We want them either to establish ways for experienced people to apply, or to reach out to find us. A workforce diverse in age and experience can be a real game changer. For our part, we will think about how to make our willingness to work and our resumes better known and easier to access.
It shouldn’t take much heavy lifting to make this work. It’s a match made in heaven.