Growth in digital access and literacy and the emergence of online labour platforms have made it much easier and cheaper for individuals to negotiate short-term employment agreements. This has encouraged a growing number of people to take up flexible freelance projects or ‘gigs’ via online platforms.
Such platforms have expanded rapidly in recent years, and growth trends suggest this is likely to continue. It is essential, therefore, that as well as ironing out short-term problems in the gig economy, the Government also looks ahead to the opportunities it will soon provide.
This report identifies flexibility as a crucial feature of gig work that attracts current workers and makes its growth a huge opportunity. It argues that millions of people with complex work barriers such as older or disabled people may be able to complete some work, but may currently find prevailing models of work, the benefit system and employment services too inflexible.
In addition this report offers recommendations for delivering them flexible employment services. For participants on employment programmes, job outcomes and the steps they must take to achieve them should encourage gig work where appropriate. This will allow providers to help suitable participants into the gig economy where currently this is not commercially viable.