03 February 2017
Future business between sharing economy and on demand jobs
There are 53 million freelancers in the USA, almost one third of the workforce. By 2050, self-employed workers will make up 50% of the active population. Millennials’ future will be all about creativity but also full of uncertainty.
Goodbye badge and time clock. Future business world is on demand. You work when there is a call for your services, products and expertise.
In the USA, traditionally considered as global trends setter, it is called ‘gig economy’, a term that in the jazz field refers to the stages open to the audience. After improvising a solo with the regular quartet, the guest musician goes back to the stalls waiting for a new chance to perform. Almost one third of the USA population earns its living working as freelance in this way. For many people it is not their first but also the second or third job to make ends meet at the end of the month.
The indicatory fact is that 45% of self-employed workers are those millennials between 18 and 34 years old. For this group of digital nomads – who scrape together some dollars thanks to sharing economy channels becoming Uber Pop drivers, selling services to online platforms for freelancers like Freelancer.com or doing home delivering services – these are not temporary jobs, but they probably belong to a new lifestyle.
According to Anders Borg, the Swedish politician and economist, president of the World Economic Forum, job security is strained by ‘global competition, digitalization and automation’. A research from Princeton University carried out by Alan Kreuger and Lawrence Kats has shown that freelancers are not the result of digital economy or disintermediated services, because they work also in a factory (11% of USA workforce), in public welfare and education (16%) and in public administration (10%). So, the die is cast and there won’t be a coming back. This brings a lot of opportunities, but the risks related to precariousness are equally high. Consider that only the 4% of US freelancers earn more than $ 50.000 a year.
The young American architect, thanks to the Net, will be able to design the interiors of an Indian manager or a Russian lawyer’s home. Doors are wide opened to great opportunities. However, the same professional will be subjected to price competition for the services offered by his colleagues from emergent countries. It is the ‘flat world’ foreseen by Thomas Friedman, where competition is global and permanent jobs become outdated. On demand jobs are probably going to help workers to leave the boredom of a permanent position giving them the opportunity to specialise in the fields they like most, having a global market at their disposal.
However, this economic model has also negative aspects. The lack of a regular income, of paid holidays and benefits – from health service to welfare system – are the big challenges that millennials will have to face. This is not just an American phenomenon. In Italy, self-employed people make up 20% of the active population. And with the end of the generous welfare state known by the past generations, freelancers must start to think and build a protection system for their own future.