Prior to our current crisis, the economy was moving to shorter term work arrangements. Circa 2009 the term ‘Gig Economy’ was used to define this type of work. For decades, we see companies moving to ‘contract’ work; we hear complaints of a prior generation: ‘traditional jobs are being outsourced for the bottom line of large companies’. According to a recent 2018 NPR article: “1 in 5 of workers are contract workers”; and labor economists predict “within a decade, freelancers will outnumber full timers”.

Freelancing is another term for this short term, project-based work. One 2017 survey from Up Work suggested “36% of Americans are freelancing”. BLS survey found: “10% of the American workforce relied on ‘alternative employment arrangements’".

There are a number of reasons for the rise of the ‘Project Economy’. For workers, project work provides: a second source of income, more job security, a separate career (interests), entrepreneurship, remote capabilities, or a flexible lifestyle. For companies, project work provides: cheaper compensation (because it does not require paying benefits), shorter contractual agreements, and/or appearance on financial documents.

Project based work is often done remotely. This is a statistic of the stark disproportion of access to the ‘project economy’: “Among workers ages 25 and older, 47% of workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher worked from home sometimes, according to BLS data, compared to just 3% of workers with only a high school diploma.” (Something worth considering as we struggle through the current crisis.)

As we rebound, I think we are only going to see more of an emphasis on project based and/or contractual work. Moreover, the jobs at larger companies will be one to two-year trials (new hires) or being put on the specific projects of the company (seasoned professionals).

My team is working on an innovative framework for jobs with shorter term commitments. The concept is to populate a number of these jobs in a job board so workers make easy, line by line, skill by skill comparisons. The ‘job label’ breaks the job requirements into prior experience and one year ‘on the job’ application. Also, includes compensation, so a complete ROI snapshot. Looking for companies posting jobs and job boards to populate this database. This platform is free through the crisis.

Furthermore, if we map skills to learning (using learning labels) and map skills to jobs (job labels), then we start to create more effective pathways.