The labor market is evolving. The classic form of employment has found competition, and more and more people are now actively choosing to be freelancers, gig workers, or consultants. But how is society impacted by this change, and what does it mean for employees as regards working conditions, inclusion, equality, and diversity in the labor market?
The traditional labor market has changed over the last few years. The conventional form of employment has found competition from professionals, gig workers, and freelancers even in industries where this was previously uncommon. According to statistics from the European Commission, around 28 million people in the EU now work as freelancers, finding their assignments via a digital platform, but that number is expected to be 43 million as early as 2025. In the US, a full 39 percent of the working population now work as freelancers, according to Freelance Forward, the major 2022 freelance study conducted by Upworks.
“Today, around 28 million people in the EU work as freelancers, finding their assignments
via a digital platform.”
Digitization is a prerequisite
Technological development, automation, and in particular digitization have been a prerequisite for the major shift that has taken place in the labor market. The pandemic has accelerated this trend
and impacted the traditional labor market, where many employees now prefer to work remotely. The possibility of working wherever and whenever they want to is the main reason that many
choose to freelance. In the study The Future of Work, a full 80 percent of the gig workers surveyed chose this form of employment specifically because of the flexibility it offered. In the study from
the US, the corresponding figure was 73 percent.
"For professionals, there is a possibility to create the lifestyle that suits them. Not everyone has the opportunity to – or wants to – work full-time, others only want to work fully remote.”
Increased opportunities or greater differences
But how do things really stand with inclusion and equality in the new labor market? The answer is that so far, there has been no research in the field but working conditions differ a great deal
between gig jobs and the jobs performed by specialized professionals. On the other hand, it is quite clear that the flexible approach has opened up a number of doors, both for those who were outside the labor market and for those who want the freedom to choose a more flexible lifestyle. Ework, which endeavors to link clients and professionals together in partnership, is positively disposed toward the possibilities that are opening up in conjunction with the shift we are seeing on
the labor market.
“A freer labor market brings benefits for both clients and professionals. For our clients, this includes the possibility of finding top talent that perhaps is not in the same town or city, or even the same country. For professionals, there is the possibility to create the lifestyle that suits them. Not everyone has the opportunity to – or wants to – work full-time, others only want to work fully remote. In the new work climate, building a career is possible despite the factors in private life, that previously were an obstacle.”
— Karin Schreil, CEO of Ework.
Working for diversity
But even if the new labor market is opening up to a more flexible work life, the labor market stakeholders need to continue working actively for diversity and equality so that the jobs of the future are not a step backwards but are on the leading edge for both a more flexible existence and a more equitable work life. According to a survey of 6,000 freelancers in the US, which the World
Economic Forum is writing about, a clear trend could be discerned. The wage gap between men and women was greater among freelance professionals than among employees. However, no
similar statistics from Sweden or Europe are available.
Skill-based recruitment for inclusion
At Ework, promoting diversity and inclusion is important – not only where our own business is concerned, but we also want to be a leading voice as regards diversity out in the professional market. One approach to working actively for equality – even among professionals – is the use of tools for more impartial recruitment. We are continually developing Ework’s Verama online service,
where professionals can upload their CVs and apply for professional assignments, so that professionals can be selected based on skills using AI.
“Working with equality and inclusion is part of our DNA, and that is something we are very proud of. For us, doing our part to create a more equal working environment in the future is important.”
— Karin Schreil, CEO Ework Group.