Friday, 23 January 2015

The P2P Jobs Market

The UK has an army of 4.6 million self-employed people, according to the Office of National Statistics - the largest it's been since we began recording such figures 40 years ago. That's 15% of the UK workforce. Even more significant is that 732,000 of the 1.1m people who have found work since early 2008 are self-employed. Fewer people have been leaving self-employment for employee roles over the past five years than used to be the case. Perhaps that's because of the recession. But over that period numerous services have emerged to support self-employment, and it seems possible that we'll see an even greater shift towards that way of working in the future.

So, who are the self-employed, and how do they find work?

The largest increase in self-employment since 2008 has been among 'managers, directors and senior officials'. But, hey, every self-employed person might claim to be a manager. So it's more noteworthy that the top 3 self-employed roles of 2014 have been building trades, cab drivers/chauffeurs and carpenters. The figures also show that professional and technical occupations are heavily represented.

How do these people find work?

No doubt word of mouth has a lot to do with it. But we've also seen a rise in the number of online marketplaces that match self-employed people with those who need work done. Indeed, TaskRabbit, a leading US marketplace, chose London as testing ground for a more automated model that it later rolled out in the US to replace its initial manual auction service. While TaskRabbit currently seems to cover the broadest range of services, there are many other such marketplaces in the UK, such as RatedPeople, Trustatrader, MyHammer, MyBuilder, TradeAdvisor, Checkatrade and so on. Note that Amazon has launched a 'local services' offering in the US, which suggests it may one day do so here.

The prevalence of cab drivers amongst the self-employed may help explain the growing number of taxi apps and car-share services.

Meanwhile, SchoolofEverything (a client of mine from 2007, on the back of my experience of P2P lending), enables anyone to make money from giving lessons in almost anything you could think of (, not that).

At any rate, the growth in both the number of self-employed people and the services that help them find work, suggests that self-employment could be an even more popular model in the future. The rise of the P2P economy?

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