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68% of Employers Expect To Hire Only Contractors By 2025

As you've probably heard, IBM is promising to hire 25,000 working professionals in the United States over the next four years. That's awesome news!

But what percentage of these jobs will be full-time, in-house positions?

A new Randstad US study** finds the majority of employees surveyed (70%) expect to be employed in an "agile" capacity over the next eight years, and the majority of employers surveyed (68%) expect to offer only "agile" jobs. The study also finds as much as 50% of the U.S. workforce will be comprised of "agile" workers by 2019.

What does "agile" mean? It means being a contractor, a consultant, a temporary employee or a freelancer. Think "gig" economy, or, if you're a Gen Xer like me, think "free agent nation." And C-suite leaders are apparently very interested in the idea of a permanently "on-call" U.S. workforce:

One of the most compelling findings that emerged from the study is the projection among c-suite and HR executives when it comes to the pervasiveness of an agile workforce model. In fact, by 2025, 52 percent of c-suite executives say their organizations will be much more committed to building an agile workforce and the average employer expects 68 percent of their workforce to be comprised of agile talent.

There are also abundant findings to support a connection between companies’ utilization of an agile workforce model and their future success. Consider that nearly 9 in 10 (89%) employers agree that by 2025, companies that are adept at managing a mix of traditional and agile talent will be most successful.

Surprisingly, the study found that c-suite executives are more bullish when it comes to anticipation and reliance on an agile workforce in the future. For example, 75 percent of c-suite executives agree the majority of their workforce will be employed in an alternative work arrangement in 2025, compared to only 69 percent of HR leaders.

There are a lot of moving parts to the "bring jobs back" puzzle. Don't get me wrong; I'm all for bringing good jobs back to the United States. My father was a mill worker who saw his job exported overseas, so I've seen the impact of offshoring up close and very, very personal.

However, when companies talk about bringing jobs back, what kinds of jobs are they talking about, exactly? Are these positions full-time, or short-term contract positions without benefits?

Perceptions around the gig economy are changing since very few jobs offer lifetime security anymore. Why not strike out on your own, control your own schedule and create your own professional destiny? Employers aren't loyal to employees, and trust is a two-way street. Besides, we now have the technology to work remotely on a moment's notice into the wee hours from home. It just makes sense.

But as a long-time freelancer myself I can attest to "agile" working as being a hell of a lot of work. You have to drum up your own business, and you're only ever as good as your last project. You have to be your own accountant, occasionally chasing down late payments. There is no 401(k) match. You are your own corporation. You think about work all the time, because if you're not working then you're not earning money. Some days are short, some days are long. You don't know what you'll be earning from month to month. You might not have anyone to talk shop with anymore, and the only doughnuts you get are the ones you buy yourself.

Not saying the agile lifestyle can't be done well, it just tends to take a certain personality type to pull off all this full-time self-management with panache, determination and confidence! We all know people who rock at full-time employment with one company but would hate the uncertainty and singularity of the 24/7/365 contractor life. It's not a money thing; it's a work style and temperament thing.

Still, the "agile" economy might just work for the majority of the U.S. Millennial workforce over the next eight years. As my Great Depression-era dad used to say: A job is a job, just do a good job. Let's hope the agile economy works for younger employees, and that they fully understand the new employer-employee contract they will be signing.

** Of more than 3,100 workers and 1,500 HR and c-suite executives.


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