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Online work / Freelancing or gigging is now seen as a highly attractive career option by 87% of students

The full report, ‘Gen Y and the Gigging Economy’ is available to download.  Generation Y graduates attracted to ‘gigging’ despite parent objections and reservations~

Online work platform, Elance, has released a new report  ‘Generation Y and the Gigging Economy’ that looks at the changing attitudes of Gen Y graduates to careers and specifically to ‘gigging’ – working independently as a freelancer for multiple brands.

Britain’s top performing graduates are more likely to be attracted to ‘gigging’ – working independently as a freelancer for multiple brands. That’s according to a new report from Elance, the online work platform, exploring how Generation Y is pursuing alternative career paths. The study1 of over 1,000 UK graduates found that freelancing is now seen as a highly attractive and lucrative career option by 87% of students with first or second class degrees. This compares to 77% of those with lower class degrees.

Alongside the report, Elance is releasing a white paper that provides advice and tips for brands looking to add freelancers to their existing full-time staff. Elance’s UK Country Manager, Hayley Conick, would also be happy to offer her personal tips to marketing teams as a spokesperson for Elance.

21% of graduates with first class honours say they have already chosen to work as a freelancer, suggesting that the so-called ‘gigging economy’ is taking hold among high flying graduates. Furthermore, 29% of all graduates say freelancing is part of their career strategy in the next five years, further spurring on the gigging economy.

Flexibility and earning potential big draws

The flexibility offered by freelancing is cited as the biggest career draw, with over two thirds (69%) of all graduates saying they feel independent work offers them a better work-life balance. Respondents are also attracted to the earning potential of freelance work (38%), saying they feel they can earn as much, if not more than they could in a traditional job.

38% of graduates also find the variety of work offered by freelancing appealing. And over a quarter (28%) see freelancing as a way to be their own boss: with the latest data showing one in ten graduates remain out of work six months after leaving university2, it’s perhaps of little surprise that students are keen to take control of their own destiny.

Implications for brands

According to Elance’s latest Global Online Employment Report, demand for freelancers with online marketing skills has risen by 52% YoY. Clearly brands are beginning to look to the online freelancer marketplace to source top marketing talent. However, the report highlights the needs for brands and marketers to do more to understand workforce trends and the motivations behind Generation Y’s changing attitudes towards careers in order to remain competitive.

Kjetil Olsen, Vice-President, Europe, Elance commented;  “If the big issue for Generation X was the end of a job for life, today’s Gen Y graduates appear to be seriously questioning the nature of having a traditional job at all. They are seeing record numbers of brands around the world opting to use online work platforms to fill skills gaps and recognise that they can carve out lucrative careers working independently.”

Olsen continues; “The research has far-reaching implications for brands. It’s clear that if they want access to some of the UK’s top graduates, they will increasingly need to tap into the freelance talent pool. Many are doing this already, but those that aren’t should consider putting in place processes for complementing their permanent staff with additional skilled independent workers.”

The full report, ‘Gen Y and the Gigging Economy’ is available to download.

1 Report is based on primary research conducted by Red Brick Research between 26th and 29th November 2013. The research was conducted with 1,032 graduates from the UK aged between 20 and 33. Generation Y is defined as those born after 1980.

2 Higher Education Statistics Agency –

What is gigging?

Gigging is a term coined in North America to describe the practice of working independently as a freelancer, as an alternative to pursuing a traditional full-time career.As organisational psychologist Dr. Michael Woodward recently noted, gigging is where people decide “to work for themselves and offer services to individual clients and corporations.

Essentially, it’s about creating and marketing the business of “You” to both individuals and companies looking for contractors.” 1In the US, gigging is already a well-established phenomenon. An estimated 20–33% of the workforce consists of independent workers, according to a 2013 study by Accenture.2In the UK, the phenomenon is less widespread, although the Professional Contractors Group estimates that today there are already 1.4 million British freelancers working across all sectors of the economy. 3Little data exists on the attitudes of recent UK graduates towards gigging, and this was the focus of our research.

About Elance

Elance is where people work differently. A pioneer in today’s freelance revolution, Elance is the world’s leading and most trusted marketplace for online work. Today over 800,000 businesses and three million freelancers use Elance in 170+ countries. Innovative global enterprises, small businesses and startups tap into the Elance talent pool, building teams from software engineers, application developers and web and graphic designers to copywriters, market researchers, data scientists, social media marketers, customer service agents and other business professionals. More than 1.3million freelance jobs are posted on Elance annually.

Headquartered in Mountain View, California, Elance is a privately-held company.

About the Global Online Employment Report (GOER)

The GOER is a quarterly analysis of freelance jobs awarded around the world via Elance – the leading online work platform. The data above relates to the period Q4 2013 (September-December) and comparisons are to the equivalent quarter in 2012, unless otherwise stated.

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