UK jobless rate at 42-year low – is it the gig economy effect?

According to the Office for National Statistics, Britain’s unemployment rate has fallen to 4.3%, the lowest since 1975. This fall coincides with the ongoing ascent of the gig economy, a sector which empowers workers to choose shifts that suit their schedules and allows employers to increase the efficiency of their workforce. The ‘gig economy’ in its current guise began to rise after the 2008 recession and it refers to jobs which are contracted out on an ‘as and when’ basis, without commitment from either the employer or employee to any hours beyond those entailed in the initial request. This means a movement towards a working practice which suits an increasingly large proportion of employees who want to fit their work around additional needs or activities, from studying to travelling. Flexible work is also leveraged by organisations such as Springboard Charity, who help those from disadvantaged backgrounds into employment, as a means to overcome a number of barriers to work and gain valuable experience across numerous employers.

Current laws in the UK dictate that in order to be eligible to request flexible working, employees must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks, but platforms such as Coople are able to cut out this waiting period by dealing in flexible employment opportunities straight off the bat. Coople is a flexible work platform that has been around since 2011 and connects people looking for flexible work with businesses from a number of industries looking to recruit staff on-demand. The company’s founder, Viktor Calabro, is passionate about the potential benefits to both employers and employees of embracing a staffing strategy that encompasses flexible working alongside permanent contracts.

Given that the staff skill-sets called upon in the hospitality industry are so transferable, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to reallocate staff from one high-end hotel to another for example, and considering the significant peaks and troughs businesses face over the course of the year, utilizing the gig economy employment model powered by a self-serving staffing marketplace could indeed be the future of hospitality. In an article published in the Business Insider it’s clear how this could really be a win-win scenario for employers looking to manage their pool of workers more efficiently and employees seeking the security of employment all whilst retaining their freedom to choose when and where to work.

Recent findings from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) favour flexible working as a practice that employers should be taking serious steps to accommodate, with their research demonstrating that offering flexible work is an effective way to increase job opportunities for the disabled and to help tackle the gender pay gap. With Coople’s network of workers already having reached 150,000 across Europe, they are set to revolutionise the part-time staffing sector with the help of their “gig economy done well” proposition, pro-actively offering the likes of holiday pay for each of its workers as they believe you shouldn’t lose out on the benefits of full time employment for the sake of flexibility.  Springboard is proud to be entering a business partnership with Coople and looks forward to their support providing placements for two of our IntoWork programmes, Diageo Learning for Life and Hospitality Futures, which offer career support and skill development to young people.

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