THE EVOLUTION TO EMPLOYMENT 2.0
The traditional view of employment is evolving. If we take the United States as an example, there are currently 19 million independent workers and the expectation is that this number will grow to 70 million by 2020. Take a moment to consider that number - that is more than half of the entire US labour market.
Like it or not, there are changing technological and demographic landscapes and these are the driving forces in the evolution towards Employment 2.0. Without going too far into a full blown sociology lecture, our view of what it is like to be employed is relatively young and we should be open for it to adapt to changing technology, life expectancy, birth rates and gender roles.
It is a given that our younger generations are more digitally savvy than their predecessors and social/mobile platforms are key to how they access the world socially, how they grow their careers, how they consume products/media, how they manage their home life and how they learn. As more and more of the Digital Generation enter working age, the more empowered the independent workforce becomes.
This is particularly interesting when we consider the contentious debate surrounding zero-hour contracts. While the popular opinion is that any unsecured type of employment is wrong, the debate should not be devolved into a black and white moral argument. Yes. employers exploiting zero-hour contracts to avoid legal obligations should be penalised. No, we should not restrict employers that legitimately require flexibility, or restrict the digitally empowered worker that prefers this arrangement.
Take, for example, the events industry. Temporary in their nature, large events can employ thousands over extremely brief periods of time and the flexibility afforded by zero-hour arrangements with those working at the event is vital for event organisers and various service providers staffing each event.
It is also likely in this area that those working the event, particularly skilled event technicians, are self-employed and will work multiple events throughout the year. Independent workers in the events industry are utilising online tools like uTRAC to find the best work available and keep track of what is owed to them by those contracting them.
I use the events industry as an example as I believe it is a trend setter in the evolution towards Employment 2.0. As digitally enabled workers enter various talent pools, the more traditional employers will resemble those in the events industry with flexible contingent workers finding work that is worth their while as it becomes available. This trend is even being reflected in office based work, as the 2x2 cubicle transitions to the comforts of a home office.
As well as digitally empowered workers, we are looking at an age where more and more roles become computerised. Combined with a larger pool of labour, the threat of large scale unemployment is forcing governments to explore ideas such as Universal Basic Income. Forward thinking experiments like this, whether they work or not, are to be encouraged as we enter the Employment 2.0 age.