How is the gig economy affecting the recruitment industry?

June 6th, 2018 | Industry News

Around five million people, either contractors or working as temps, are involved in the gig economy in the UK. The latest government white paper says that 4.4% of the UK population had undertaken some kind of work in the gig economy in 2017 and that for the first time, half of those undertaking gig work were under 35. It’s a fascinating snapshot of how this new way of working, which is entirely fuelled by digital technology, is affecting recruitment and the economy more generally.

Recruitment agencies have already discovered that the pattern of working has changed massively over the past decade, and at an accelerating rate in the past five years. The main changes being:

  1. Interim workers – especially when organisations are in a pinch point like an audit or merger – are often sought from agencies whose recruiting software can be relied on to produce proven, experienced personnel who can easily slot in to meet demand
  2. Many people work in the gig economy but would rather have more sustained working relationships. Any effective applicant tracking system, UK or internationally based, reveals that plenty of Uber drivers and Deliveroo couriers would prefer to use their skills and training, but are still looking for the right employer
  3. Security and benefits matter, but company culture is becoming increasingly important – not least because the gig economy gives people a safety net that allow them to leave unsatisfying jobs and freelance until a better opportunity comes along
  4. These ‘portfolio’ careers need to be assessed differently. Effective recruitment database software has to track and register multiple levels of work and transferable experience from a range of employment to adequately recognise a candidate’s skills, experience and capacities.

STEM recruitment and gig working

A survey in the USA has highlighted a problem between technology recruiters and the companies they are trying to support. One example was that while hiring managers in firms considered future performance to be the second most important metric when considering a candidate, while for recruiters the time taken to close a hiring deal was the second most important consideration, and future performance was right down in sixth place.

In the UK, a similar survey shows that the average UK STEM firm has ten unfilled vacancies, and that the shortage of candidates means that roles are remaining empty for around a month longer than anticipated leading to a greater call on the gig economy, or to pushing up the offering salary. One calculation suggests this could be costing the UK economy £1.5 billion annually in extra costs including gig payments, recruitment, training costs and salary inflation.

The best recruitment CRM is capable of sifting through the small field of available candidates, sensitively comparing qualifications with in-house training and previous work experience to produce STEM shortlist that gives companies a rapid and comprehensive overview of the available talent to shorten recruitment time and improve retention.


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