Jobs Crisis Powers The Freelance 'Big-Bang'

More than a quarter of British adults (of working age) are currently out of work, according to a study conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) earlier this month.

Traditional back to work schemes and corporate hiring programmes will not get us out of this mess quickly enough but new working methods and initiatives could help to increase the current rate of employment (72%) – the lowest since this Government came into power.

There are 10,606,000 people currently out of work in Britain, 8,157,000 of whom are described by the ONS as ‘economically inactive’- government jargon for ‘people who are neither in employment nor unemployment’ or, in other words, the likes of stay-at-home mums or dads, carers and those permanently unable to work.

Unemployment fell by 33,000 to 2.45 million, the first quarterly fall in almost two years (since May 2008). So what does this mean? John Philpott, the leading employment economist, at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development explains:

Unemployment is sharply down, however you measure it,” he said. “Yet there are also 54,000 fewer people in work, with full time jobs particularly hard hit.

The apparent paradox is explained by a very sharp rise of 149,000 in the number of economically inactive people, with the number of students surging by 98,000. Jobless young people are thus turning to study in their thousands to avoid the dole.”

Dig a little deeper, and it’s clearer why millions of British people have elected to become a member of the ‘economically inactive.’ According to the ONS, ‘the number of vacancies for three months to February 2010 was 480,000, up 39,000 over the quarter.’ Unsurprisingly, the mathematical equation of squeezing 10,606,000 unemployed or economically inactive people into 480,000 jobs doesn’t quite fit.

The traditional solution to this problem would be to wait patiently and hope for the big businesses to recover sufficiently to begin recruiting once more, (at present these businesses are struggling to retain the current members of their workforce). This, inevitably, will be a long and painful process, should this process indeed occur at all. The more experienced workers will find their methods increasingly outdated during their period out of work, while recent unemployed graduates will find themselves superseded by a new wave of graduates year-on-year, all with similar levels of experience.

Banks are inevitably cautious at this time, and the general lack of credit available to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) will stifle any desire to recruit more permanent staff. The age of landing the perfect job with a guarantee of lifetime security is slowly eroding away. So where do we go from here?

The idea of the Gig Economy is becoming increasingly prevalent, placing the emphasis on the freedom of the individual to pick and choose projects that they want to work on, and building their working life around the constraints of their home life, rather than the other way around. Freelance and part-time being the new cool. From information workers to designers, developers, bankers, engineers, and even CEOs. No longer the sole preserve of bar staff, waitresses, builders or manufacturing plant staff.

Organisations like blur Group support the Gig Economy model through focused Crowdsourcing of virtual crowds and agencies. The crowd is filtered into groups of particular industry specialists. This allows Crowdsourcing companies to identify the best-suited individuals from a wide range of fields (including designers, artists, writers, marketers, entrepreneurs) who match the required profile of the client’s specification.

Crowdsourcing filters product and service providers to match the client’s budget and requirements, ensuring a highly effective selection process. The clear advantage for SMEs lies in the lack of overhead costs to their company. They pay their freelancer a fee, but nothing more. They do not have to necessarily facilitate their freelancer inside an office space, nor retain them beyond the end of a project. Recruitment through Crowdsourcing enables clients to select many individuals, each with their own specific expertise, to work on multiple projects.

The era of big spending on big projects has been transferred to thrifty alternatives. Regardless of the size of the business, Crowdsourcing methods address the question of how to maximise the potential of a project from a smaller budget. Rather than spending copious amounts on expensive consultation methods, Crowdsourcing pinpoints specific individuals who can complete the project at a fraction of the price.

Companies such as blur Group are not going to single handedly resolve the enormous deficit between the number of jobs available and the number of people requiring work – but it offers the unemployed and the ‘economically inactive’ a no-lose opportunity to involve themselves in a project related to their specialism.

For the jobless, the very least that could result from entering a Crowd would be an open debate with other Crowd members, a dialogue with businesses of all sizes and an insight into the types of skills and expertise required to be cutting-edge and succeed in their particular industry. It is easy self-promotion, which if successfully executed, can lead to well paid work while the elusive search for the ‘perfect job’ continues.

Job titles no longer encompass the depth and variety of work that today’s workforce are expected to perform. Entering the world of Crowdsourcing offers a route towards regular work for graduates in need of experience, and for others, a chance to market their expertise and experience to appropriate projects. Surely any process offering work to even a tiny fraction of the 10,606,000 of British working age adults out of work is worth consideration?

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