Fact or fiction: what’s the truth behind the myths of temporary work?

Workforces across the UK continue to grow and evolve. Figures published by the Office for National Statistics show the overall employment rate in the UK stands at 76.1%. This is the joint highest figure on record. The general increase of this number since early 2012 has been attributed to a variety of factors. One of these is the growth in people utilising ‘flexible’ working options.

A 2018 DBEIS report shows 4.4% of Brits have worked in the gig economy in the last 12 months. This figure is only forecast to continue to grow in the coming years. 62% of those working flexibly state that they first got involved in the gig economy in the last two years.

The terms “temporary work” and “gig economy” often come with misconceptions. For many they bring up images of students earning money alongside their studies. Some only believe these options are somewhat of a last resort. Whilst these people do form part of the flexible workforce, this fails to tell the full story of a diverse section of workers who want to work in ways that suit their lifestyle.

Temporary workers continue to be major players in the gig economy. With the industry expected to become a $2.7 trillion economy by 2025, it’s vital that we paint a realistic portrait of the growing flexible workforce.

Too often we make assumptions of who these workers are, whether it be their backgrounds, their qualifications or their ambitions. In response, we have outlined three of the most frequently-held beliefs about temporary workers. We want to show you the facts behind these myths of temporary work.

Myth 1: temporary workers lack qualifications and training

The level of qualification of temporary workers has continued to increase over the years. According to the RSA, an impressive 44% of gig workers in the UK have a university degree. On the Coople platform we have thousands of registered Cooplers with a wealth of experience both academically and in their respective fields from hospitality to office work.

In fact, the high skill level amongst many temporary workers in the gig economy regularly creates examples of under-employment. Whether it is due to being in-between jobs or wanting the freedom to work flexibly, many workers can be found performing tasks they are overqualified for. This demonstrates that temporary workers often possess a diverse range of skills across a huge variety of industries.

Myth 2: temporary workers are only young students

Research shows there is no single type of temp worker. The proportion of older working professionals joining the flexible workforce has continued to increase. In fact, over half of gig workers (52%) are between the ages of 31 and 54 whilst 14% are over the age of 55 according to the RSA.

One reason we see more older people entering the flexible workforce is that it allows them to decide how often they want to work. A survey of 12,000 workers over 50 reported that 78% want to see more flexible hours. With temporary or part-time work, this possibility becomes a reality.

Myth 3: temporary work is a last resort option

Temporary work is often seen as a transitional phase, but it can also be a long-term solution. Recent studies show that 45% of temporary workers chose to work this way as it suits their situation. Professors at UoP also found that a large number of people in the gig economy did so not because of necessity. Instead they chose this lifestyle to supplement their income. This demonstrates that working flexibly can suit the lifestyles of many whether it be a full-time working solution or a way to generate additional income.

Coople is designed to make flexible working rewarding for everyone. A few clicks is all it takes to start working the way you want to!