By 2027, the majority of workers will be freelancers, with almost 50% of millennials already choosing this career path. That is according to a recent study from Upwork and The Freelancers Union. This could have profound effects, both positive and negative for the global economy. On the one hand, freelancers tend to earn more, prefer their work and believe their skills will stay valuable in future, compared to non-freelancers who are more likely to experience the opposite. However, current work structures favor traditional employment, with freelancers struggling to receive benefits such as paid sick leave. Regardless of the impacts, this study suggests that the rise of the freelancer is inevitable and initiatives such as coworking spaces need to be put in place to support the changing economy.
The Role of Millennials
So, why are freelancers set to take over the workforce? It starts with millennials. Another 2018 report from MetLife revealed that 74% of the younger generation would prefer the flexibility of being their own boss, compared to just 57% of generation X and 43% of baby boomers. This marks a significant generational shift in attitudes towards making money.
Exactly why this shift has occurred is still being researched. It may be that greater access to the internet has allowed young people to work remotely, while the less tech savvy older generations find this idea less appealing. It may also be down to the decline in manual work, with younger people far less likely than their parents and grandparents to do something which doesn’t require a computer. Alternatively, economic downturns and increasing house prices has forced millennials to value family time over a career and so are looking for a career which can fit around the rest of their life, rather than vice versa.
The Growth of Creative Industries
Creative industries are booming at the moment. While artificially intelligent machines take over mundane, manual work, new jobs are having to be created. In Europe, 10% of exports are from creative industry. In the UK, the design industry alone is responsible for creating over 100,000 new jobs a year. These kind of jobs are boosting economic growth, but have the added benefit of offering flexible work.
Increased Access to Resources
Internet cafés and other coworking spaces can now be found in cities all over the world. This allows young people either to travel or stay at home and still earn an income. It is perhaps this flexibility that makes freelancing appealing to such a wide range of workers. These resources will only continue to improve over the coming years, making remote work the natural choice. Society needs to continue to invest in connecting workers together to fit the needs of a changing economy.
Businesses are now being run from all over the world. Young creative types are driving this growth, but it is the internet and coworking spaces that have allowed them this flexibility. While traditional office jobs and manual work are still important sections of the economy, the growth of creative, entrepreneurial freelancing can’t be overlooked.