In a new study, the CIPD has identified seven ‘megatrends’ that have between them radically changed the nature of work in the global economy, leaving employers struggling to keep up with developments.

One of the most prominent, the report reveals, is de-industrialisation: in the course of five decades, the proportion of people employed in manufacturing has plummeted from 36% in 1961 to 8% in 2012, while the numbers working in services has soared from 49% to 81% over the same interval.

Of particular interest to Umbrella Company Employees and other skilled professional freelancers is the report’s observation that, as the workforce migrates from manufacturing to services, the fastest growth in jobs in the sector has been within highly-skilled and knowledge-intensive areas. The report goes on to note that this trend has been accompanied by “greater diversity in employment relationships and how we work”. The CIPD appears to mean by this that professional contracting has been steadily increasing.

The report – Megatrends: The trends shaping work and working lives – states on page 12: “We see that the proportion in this category has remained around 60% since 1997, although there are indications of a drop in the proportion since 2008. The two-fifths of the workforce not in this category are mainly part-time or temporary employees or the self-employed.”

Technology, it continues, “is enabling new forms of work organisation, such as global ‘spot markets’ for freelance work (for example Mechanical Turk).”

The study also tracks six other megatrends: demographic change, an expanding female labour market, decreased collectivisation (reflected in falling union membership), globalisation-facilitated technological change and increased educational participation.

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