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Welcome to the gig economy

November 25, 2020 by Harrison Kopp

Welcome to the gig economy

You may have heard talk of a ‘gig economy’. You’ve probably been hearing it a lot more lately. But what is it? And why is it named after a term used by musicians? Well, there’s an answer to both those questions, and answering the first should answer the second.

Put simply, the ‘gig economy’ is a term used to describe a recent trend in work and it becoming more and more short-term. It’s basically talking about temp work, contract work and freelancing – just like musos picking up paid gigs here and there.

Today’s prevalence of specialist skills has led to businesses finding it more cost-effective to hire specialists on a project basis as and when they need them. This isn’t the newest innovation. Temping, contracting and freelancing have been around for a very long time, it’s just the prevalence and significance of short-term work has changed.

The gigging life might not be for everyone though. Maybe it appeals to you, maybe it doesn’t. Maybe you’re unsure? Read on to find out.

The pros…

  • The flexibility is unmatched
  • You can do a huge variety of different tasks
  • Proactive individuals are much more likely to flourish
  • You can automatically expand your networks
  • It may lead to permanent employment further down the line with the companies you’ve worked with
  • It’s also suited to temporary residents

The cons…

  • There’s no annual leave, no sick leave, no maternity/paternity leave, and no automatic tax deductions or super contributions
  • There’s nowhere near as much financial security as there is with salaried employment
  • Businesses don’t have a simple way to search the entire array of ‘suppliers’ in one place
  • You’ll need to have a good knowledge of the accounting side of business, and be on top of your finances
  • You’ll need to know about the regulations around sole traders (rule number one: you need an ABN)
  • Work may be seasonal

Don’t let the list of cons scare you – most of them can be countered by simply staying on top of things.

Working in the gig economy can be incredibly rewarding, both professionally and personally, and you may find yourself enjoying your work much more. For recent grads, it can be a way to use your skills in a job while also testing the waters of potential companies. Don’t hesitate to give it a try if you think the gigging life might be for you.

If succeeding in the gig economy is something that appeals to you, check out our upcoming Graduate Gateway - there’s a heap of relevant workshops to help build the skills required!

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