A Lifetime of Learning: Training and the Freelance Workforce

Posted on Mar 29, 2019 | 0 comments

A Lifetime of Learning: Training and the Freelance Workforce

Freelancers represent a fast-growing segment of the workforce. In the United States, the number of freelance workers grew to 56.7 million in 2018. In Europe, a recent study shows the significant increase of “contingent workers” in large companies. Yet another study indicates that 20-30 percent of the working-age population in the United States and the European Union are engaged in independent work. Among the many implications of this shift from traditional labor arrangements is a new perspective on education: Freelancers have realized that education doesn’t stop. It’s a lifelong process. And a focus on ongoing skills training may be more valuable than a college degree.

The survey Freelancing in America 2018 indicates that freelancers find more value in skills training: 93 percent of freelancers with a four-year college degree say skills training was useful, while only 79 percent find their college education relevant to the work they do now.

In addition, 70 percent of full-time freelancers participated in skills training in the past six months compared to only 49 percent of full-time non-freelancers. This points to the rapid refresh rate as our technology and applications continue to evolve.  The traditional notion that a four-year degree can set up a person for success by teaching them how to “think” is no longer adequate; specific skill sets are needed to successfully compete as the workplace continues its quick evolution. Freelancers have learned that ongoing trainings for new skills to add to their LinkedIn resume may be more valuable than spending semester hours and tuition money in a classroom.

Accessing Training

Thanks to technology, options for inexpensive or free location-independent training abound. Platforms like Coursera and Udemy provide access to university and business courses at steeply discounted rates. EdX connects users to free MOOCs (massive online open courses) from universities like Harvard and Hong Kong Polytechnic. Google has jumped into the arena this year with their Digital Garage, which offers digital training in subjects ranging from e-commerce and social media analytics to hard core programming and application development, accompanied by certificates of completion that can be used to document skills levels—all for the satisfactory price of free. Since the cost of training is most often the responsibility of the freelancer, these options enable a welcome source of knowledge and accessibility.

The global workforce needs talented and qualified people. The ability of freelancers to meet those requirements and continue to gather new skills on the go is yet another reason the surge in contingent workers will continue to grow.

Are you ready to learn more about location-independent work or moving your job to a new country?

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