The Gig Economy and Career Pathways
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The “Gig Economy” is a buzzword to describe a trend where organizations contract with independent workers for short-term jobs, positions, or engagements. It references a term that musicians (I am one) have long used to refer to performance engagements. Some believe that the trend toward a gig economy has begun. An Intuit study, for example, has found that 36% of American Workers are already in the gig economy, up from 17% 25 years ago, and it has predicted that by 2020, 43 percent of American workers will be independent contractors.
If this is correct, it has enormous implications for how we view career pathways. If nearly half of the workforce is not employed in full-time benefited jobs, should we consider them as part of a career pathways system? If so, how should we conceptualize their career paths? Is a gig economy an indication of a bleak future for workers (no steady work, low pay, no benefits, at the whim of unregulated employers) or as an opportunity for self employment that may, if organized effectively, lead to family-sustaining income?
In any case, those who believe that career pathways are important (and I am one) must not neglect the gig economy phenomenon. If adult learners are already part of it, and I believe many are, we need to understand it, how it works, how adult learners experience it, and perhaps help adult learners to improve their ability to navigate it, whether they remain as part of a gig economy or join a career pathways economy leading to full-time jobs and careers.
What are your thoughts about this?
David J. Rosen
Moderator, Program Management CoP