The continued growth of the contingent workforce is transforming the professions we work in, but is professional development addressing this important shift?
A recent report from the US Government Accountability Office estimates that just over 40% of the country’s workforce is made up of contingent workers and this is expected to grow to 50% by 2020. The Brandon Hall Group released the results of its 2017 study noting 90% of the organizations surveyed are using contractors and intend to increase their spending on contingent labor in 2018.
Not all freelancers are full-time independent contractors. Many manage contract work on the side to supplement their income while some seek to gain necessary experience to make their next career move. The Brandon Hall Group reports, “organizations are most likely to use independent contractors consistently or frequently (51%), followed by paid interns (47%), part-timers (36%), and labor from an agency or staffing firm (34%).
What does this mean for professional associations and continuing education providers? Let’s take a look at three immediate challenges.
Access. Freelancers are not likely recipients of employer PD benefits such as association membership, conference registration, or certificate program financial support. However, these professionals represent skilled labor within their respective industries that could most benefit from professional associations.
How will CE providers ensure access to networking and programming?
Career Lattices. Gig economy pros are increasingly seeking lateral and diagonal moves – which challenges preconceptions of old fashioned linear career paths. Professionals increasingly have more diverse background coming into an industry which means we need to become more adept at assessing competency gaps to build effective learning pathways.
How will CE providers identify requisite knowledge and competencies for success in their industry so professionals can navigate toward mastery?
Team Dynamics. While employers are interested in the opportunity to pull critical expertise into their teams to meet strategic short-term goals, they may not fully understand how embracing contingent workers changes the dynamics of their team – and what’s required to effectively manage. Compound this with the virtual nature of contract work within many industries.
How will CE providers prepare professionals to effectively manage this new team dynamic?
The flexibility and specialization of the contingent workforce is being embraced by employers of all sizes signaling a critical shift in the nature of a career and on demand continuing education required to navigate this new reality.
Does your education strategy position your organization as the go-to for the gig economy? If not, let’s talk.