The Gig Economy: Why Jobs are Disappearing (and How to Make it Work for You)

 

The gig economy is on quite a tear. A late-2016 Pew report says that a full 24% of Americans earned money through gigs in 2016, and the story is the same here in Canada. Non-traditional workers make up 20 to 30 percent of the Canadian workforce, and by 2025, a full two-thirds of the Canadian workforce will be remote and contract workers.

Essentially, this means that full-time jobs are a thing of the past. This is a radical redefinition of work itself. Salaried positions are pulling a Monty Python – they’re “not dead yet”, but they are dying, and they’re dying quickly.

 

“It’s only a flesh wound!” — The job market, probably

 

The decline of “the job” and the rise of the gig economy is quickly creating a new reality that the workforce will soon be forced to adjust to. Jobs are disappearing, and they’re not coming back. But with the right tools and the right strategy, you can make the gig economy work for you and find more success as an independent contractor than you ever could as an employee.

Here are just a few of the factors behind this sea change – and some simple ways you can benefit from it, if you’re not already.

 

Recession-Era Belt-Tightening Led to Permanent Employment Changes

One of the biggest factors leading to the rise of the gig economy is the collapse of traditional employment.

During the 2008 global recession, corporations all around the world tightened their belts to stay afloat, resulting in mass layoffs. The aftermath involved suddenly out-of-work professionals flitting from contract to contract in order to maintain some form of income. And the recent rise of the Internet as a business tool rendered a variety of online opportunities for earning an income that didn’t exist before. The recession also happened at a time when Baby Boomers started entering their late 50s and early 60s, and workers nearing retirement age typically seek out more flexible employment arrangements.

The net result was that out-of-work individuals left the job market to instead pursue self-employment, which contributed significantly to the gig economy’s growth.

 

Young Workers Increasingly Prefer Remote and Contract Work

Millennials are now the largest generation in North America, and they’re redefining the world of work. It’s estimated that by 2020, Millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce. And that means the Millennial mindset will define the world of work for a long time to come.

Millennials haven’t exactly had it easy, as far as work is concerned. They graduated into a recession. They’ve been the victims of credential inflation. For years, many of them struggled with unemployment or underemployment because of a poor job market. And many of them have seen the negative impact of layoffs on their families and friends.

The economy has since recovered, but it’s left a significant – and most likely permanent – impression on Millennials. Many Millennials no longer trust the job market, so instead, they’re making their own jobs. Rather than take a permanent position that requires them to dress a certain way, show up for certain hours, and adhere to a certain culture – all the while knowing that they could be laid off at any moment – Millennials are choosing to forge their own futures with independent contract work and remote positions.

 

How to Make the Gig Economy Work for You

Jobs aren’t dead, but they are dying. The future of work is freelance. But if you’re smart and ambitious, that’s the best news you could hope for.

Capitalizing on the gig economy involves a mix of initiative, creativity, and discipline. It’s about finding what you’re good at, and then marketing the heck out of yourself. It’s about being disciplined enough to work from noon until midnight if that’s what it takes to meet deadlines. It’s about finding the most profitable niches and working hard to break into them. It’s about knowing what work to do yourself and what work to outsource.

It’s about knowing how to run a business. Because at the end of the day, that’s what you are.

How are you making the gig economy work for you? What skills will future gig workers need to continue developing in order to be successful?