Gen Z are entering the workforce and they are changing it. They are transforming employment trends and patterns across fields. According to a statistical study involving the Australian youth, Gen Z throughout their lifetimes will have five careers and seventeen jobs. People under twenty-five years of age keep the same job for just twenty months in contrast to eighty months for those above forty-five.
These trends reflect the innate nature and tendencies of this new generation. Gen Z are technophiles who grew up in the age of smartphones and social media. They have never seen a world without the Internet. As their experiences are rooted in the recent global economic recessions as well as the pandemic, they are also pragmatic and realistic. They are more entrepreneurial in spirit than any generation before them and have little interest in traditional career paths. All this has led to the emergence of the ‘gig economy’, a ground where Gen Z seem to be thriving.
A gig economy is based upon a temporary and flexible workforce consisting of independent contractors, part-timers, freelancers, and so on. This is a tremendous advantage to employers who can cut down significant operational and overhead costs. Companies can hire workers per ‘gigs’ thus saving on the expenses that are incurred maintaining a full-time labor force. Startups and small businesses can scale up fast and grow their enterprises with the help of contract employees and temporarily hired staff. With the influx of a new generation into the labor market, firms and organizations today find at their disposal a diverse pool of talent willing to be gig workers.
The gig economy is extremely lucrative. The number of gig workers has been steadily increasing. Around ninety percent of workers in the United States considered freelancing or independent contractual work at some point and the total income generated by the gig economy is almost $1 trillion. In India, more than 97% of workers dabble in the gig economy.
An alternative employment model is attractive to the youth of today, who find the traditional nine to five jobs and conventional career paths restrictive, confining, and leaving little room for personal and professional growth. Gig economy workers enjoy greater flexibility and independence. While they work for companies and clients, they are the masters of their own time and resources and have to deal with minimum interference or intrusion on a day-to-day basis. Many of these jobs do not require personnel to come to the job site and most freelancers and gig workers work from the comfort of their homes. They are not confined to their geographical vicinity and with the aid of technology can connect with clients across continents. They can take on a variety of tasks and multiple roles thus creating multiple channels of income at the same time.
As more and more youngsters participate in the gig economy with the eye to draw on all the benefits of the present business climate, competition is mounting and formidable. Companies and clients today look at talent and human resource as renewable and dynamic. They hire ‘on-demand’. The challenge for professionals today is to stay relevant and to stay on top of developments.
The onus falls on the candidates themselves to acquire a multifaceted skill set that is adaptable to a variety of contexts to qualify for opportunities they aim towards. This calls for the need for upskilling.
To thrive in a gig economy, one has to constantly change with the times and stay up to date on changes that take place every day. They need to keep adding more skills to their personal inventory. Technology is the backbone of the gig economy and it is absolutely imperative that gig workers improve their digital fluency. This allows them to take advantage of all the tools and resources available to them and thus discharge their duties efficiently. Workshops and training courses equip professionals with new skills or fill in any gaps in their knowledge. Additional educational degrees can also put professionals in good stead as they bring credibility. Nowadays, more and more professionals are enrolling in distance learning programs that enable them to keep working while they educate themselves. Networking and communication skills are a must-have for any professionals and especially for gig workers. They need to hone their soft skills to ensure they bag the job when they come into contact with potential clients.
Upskilling provides professionals with the leverage to ask for better pay. Self-improvement enhances productivity and efficiency and overall quality of work. It allows professionals to have a more satisfying and fulfilling work life. Professionals can take charge of their careers and boost the prospects available to them. It also makes them viable for more exciting and intellectually stimulating opportunities. Upskilling qualifies workers for job mobility and career shifts.
Today’s generation has envisioned for themselves a particular lifestyle that is much different from those before them. Monotony is hardly appealing to youngsters and most do not regard the traditional conceptions like security and stability of a conservative office in their search for career paths to take. Run-of-the-mill job roles, a rigid work schedule, and the inflexibility of expectations and rules are stifling to Gen Z.
The new generation is enterprising and adventurous in nature. They seek work that accommodates their enthusiasm and creative impulse as well as their instinct for freedom and independence.
It is undoubtedly the generational shift that is the main driver behind the transformation of careers. In the light of this shift, many conventional notions pertaining to employment and employability have been broken down. Many traditional job roles have gone obsolete while others have evolved to an unrecognizable degree. The gig economy is on the rise and it is projected to become the norm in the future.
Written by Bidisha Boral for The Growup Group