A new analysis by the online jobs board Indeed has found that “gig” jobs are more popular among people born in the years following the Second World War (the “baby boomer” generation) than any other age group.
Almost five million people in the UK have taken up work in the “gig economy,” an exceptionally broad term that encompasses Uber-style cab drivers and food delivery couriers at one end of the spectrum right through to high-end Umbrella Company Employees and other contracting professionals at the other.
Indeed analysed search patterns dating back to 2014 and found that 22 per cent more baby boomers looked at gig work opportunities than millennials (people who reached adulthood in the early 21st century). The jobs board revealed that 180 out of every million searches for gig jobs through freelancer platforms such as Upwork were made by baby boomers, compared to 140 per million by millennials.
A separate study by the University of Oxford found that employer demand for gig workers surged significantly in 2016. The fastest rise in gig jobs occurred in the UK, chiefly because such openings rocketed by 14 per cent between May and September last year.
Indeed’s data suggests that the most likely time for searchers to look for gig jobs is in the autumn: in each of the last three years, figures show a post-summer surge in the volume of people seeking gig work.
Mariano Mamertino, an economist at Indeed, acknowledged that the gig economy is small but emphasised that it is growing rapidly. It now encompasses a much broader range of people than the stereotypical image of the young bicycle courier.
The gig economy, he explained, is now disrupting conventional employment models through the use of new technology that allows anyone to work flexibly. It has, he noted, proven extraordinarily attractive to those who have lost their jobs and need to resume earning swiftly as well as those who want to supplement their existing employment income with extra pay.
Mr Mamertino stated that people from the baby boomer generation, who are now approaching their retirement, have invaluable experience and skills available to deploy in the workplace. Many don’t wish to take on a conventional permanent role but do have a desire to continue working and earning.
He added: “Employers in the gig economy could benefit greatly from this pool of experienced talent. Offering gig jobs with in-built flexibility will allow people with valuable skills to continue working, in agile roles that fit around other lifestyle commitments like volunteering and childcare support.”
Flexible models of working such as contracting and freelancing seem to be taking off; and baby boomers are leading the way.