The freelance economy is on the rise. Just this week two new reports reveal the extent to which the freelance — or gig economy — is growing. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that this independent workforce consists of 162 million people working across the US and most of Europe. That’s 30% of the working-age population.
This is consistent with data from the Freelancing in America: 2016 report that shows 35% of the US workforce is now freelance. The study shows that the number of freelancers in the US has grown by two million in the last two years, from 53 to 55 million workers.
The trend is not a surprising one considering technology has made it easier for freelancers to find work. The job market is also changing as it adapts to what this growing, on-demand talent pool can offer. Highly-skilled freelancers can be found and hired on-demand and at a fraction of the cost of employing a full-time equivalent. It is the ability to access skills on-demand that is helping organisations respond more quickly to rapidly changing markets and economic trends. That’s why platforms such as Upwork, Task Rabbit and Uber are so popular.
So what do these trends mean for UK businesses and in particular L&D teams?
According to the UK government’s Office for National Statistics, there are 4.7 million self-employed workers in the UK representing almost 15% of the total working population.
The good news is that many freelancers work in the creative sector and are highly-skilled specialists. We have seen this reflected in the broad range of skills now available on the Jam Pan platform — ranging from digital learning skills through to a wide range of digital creative skills — from film making and animation to app building. These are the skills that L&D teams are looking for as they shift focus to digital learning.
Jam Pan has seen a sharp rise in the number of freelancers and agencies signing up to the platform as well as a large increase in the number of jobs that are being posted by organisations. We currently have more than 50 live jobs that range from elearning development work, app development and games to LMS management and performance support. These jobs reflect the diversity of skills available. They also reflect a growing interest by the industry in hiring skills on demand.
But it doesn’t stop there. One recent client used the platform to bring in a range of on-demand skills that have helped reinvent a major part of their L&D function. How? Starting with some business analysis, the client was able to identify the business need, create a business plan and design and deliver a new approach to deliver compliance training.
This was followed by help in identifying all content assets and duplication, re-engineering the learning management system to be able to deliver a new learning experience and introducing a new authoring tool to enable the organisation to create and update content as required, thereby no longer relying on costly third parties for ongoing content support.
All of this work was carried out by highly-skilled, on-demand freelancers. The small in-house L&D team was able to continue its work and the head of L&D was able to re-engineer how a large part of his function worked at relatively low cost and quickly.
The key here is that this client was able to tap into skills that were not available within his team. The team could focus on the business whilst freelancers plugged the gaps.
And because freelancers have a wealth of experience working across a range of organisations and sectors they are able to provide insights into how others may have approached a similar challenge.
Platforms such as Jam Pan bring a much broader range of skills to L&D teams and this is set to grow as the freelance market grows. Could your L&D team benefit from this freelance talent pool?