Workforce development drives economic development, and the make-up of the workforce is changing with more workers choosing self-employment as free lancers and solopreneurs. Business leaders and governments better figure out how to respond effectively.
Solopreneurs are simply business owners who work and run their business alone. Using this definition, about a third of the American workforce comprising freelancers and consultants, fit under this category.
Often solopreneurs have been criticized for not generating jobs for others, but while they may go it alone, it does not mean that they don’t collaborate and generate work and opportunity.
Like solopreneurs, according to Merriam Webster, a freelancer is a person who acts independently without being affiliated with or authorized by an organization. This person pursues a profession without a long-term commitment to any one employer, typically works from home and has a flexible self-enforced work schedule. So really anyone with a marketable skill who works for themselves can fall into the category of freelancer or solopreneur.
Historically designers and writers have fallen into this category and are most likely to call themselves freelancers. Today almost every sector of the global workforce has freelancers, solopreneurs, independent and self-employed workers, and statistics from the freelance marketplace “Upwork” suggest that there are upwards of 57 million in the US or about 35% of the entire workforce. The data also suggests that this work arrangement is attractive to millennials who represent 47% of this category of workers.
This trend is similar to Canadian statistics with approximately 21.5% of the overall workforce made up of 1.9 million Canadians classified as self-employed while another 2.3 million are classified as temporary employees.
With evidence to suggest that this arrangement is growing about three times faster than the rest of the workforce, it may very well represent a majority of the entire workforce in less than a decade.
So if business and industry and their workforce drive prosperity in our communities, we better ensure government and policy leaders from all sectors understand and develop strategies to support this shift in how employees and residents in our communities want to work and ensure we are creating spaces for collaboration.