The professional on-demand workforce includes all generations

Older, more experienced independent professionals between the ages of 35-55 are the ones most sought-after by today’s businesses for on-demand assignments. This makes sense, given businesses’ emphasis on proven skills and experience (See previous post). Mid-career professionals satisfy this need.

Not only does this arrangement work well for employers, it works well for on-demand consultants as well. A professional woman in this age group is often stressed out by balancing career goals with the challenges of caring for a growing family. On-demand work provides her, too, with a good solution.

According to the 2016 Corporate On-Demand Talent Report, the second most sought-after demographic is millennials (those under age 35). When you look at the gig economy as a whole, which includes many categories of unskilled labor, this segment comes in first. But when you look at the professional sector, they come in second – probably because they are still developing their skills and are therefore less desirable to employers. The third most common demographic is retirees (over age 55).

An exciting new paper, The Rise and Nature of Alternative Work Arrangements in the United States, 1995-2015, updates statistics last compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2005. Due to the fact that this study includes all categories of alternative work (not just professional), it reports slightly different results:

For example, 6.4 percent of those aged 16 to  24 were employed in an alternative work arrangement in 2015, while 14.3 percent of those aged 25-54 and 23.9 percent of those aged 55-74 were employed in an alternative work arrangement.

The study finds that older workers are more likely than others to be in alternative work arrangements. According to an April 4 article on this study in Bloomberg View, The Gig Economy Is Powered by Old People:

What this may mean is that the growth of the gig economy, at least the growth measured by Katz and Krueger, is being driven not so much by struggling millennials lining up gigs online as by 60-year-olds working as independent contractors.

In addition, this study shows a notable rise in the likelihood of working in an alternative work arrangement for women. From 2005 to 2015, the percentage of women who were employed in an alternative work arrangement more than doubled – rising from 8.3 percent to 17 percent. Among men, the increase was more modest.

Both of these reports support what we at Canopy regularly tell our clients and our consultants: that the professional segment of the on-demand economy is strong and growing, and that it offers an important alternative for professional women of all ages.

Stay tuned…Our next post will feature more interesting details from this new study.

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