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Gig economy: The UK has fastest growing online job market in the world

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For the first time, job market information from online platform sources are being collated. What does this trend mean for the job market as a whole?

Research by the University of Oxford has revealed that there has been a drastic increase in ‘gig working’ in the UK.

Launched earlier this year, The iLabour Project is the first economic indicator that provides an online gig economy equivalent of conventional labour market statistics. The index collates worldwide data by tracking the number of projects and tasks posted on platforms in real time.

Vili Lehdonvirta, associate professor at the University of Oxford said: “We are creating an online labour index which is essentially a tool that measure in near real time the utilisation of these online labour markets. It shows us how much work is being done and what kind of skills are being utilised. 

“The online labour index will allow policy makers and researchers to grasp the scale, speed and direction of change in different occupations.”
From data collated between May and September 2016, it was revealed that the number of vacancies grew by 9%, representing an annual growth rate of 25%. 

Unsurprisingly, software development and technology jobs were the fastest growing, as there was a 14% rise of online sourced jobs. Creative and multimedia roles also grew by approximately 8%.

The UK was the fastest growing online labour market, with employers increasing the volume of labour bought online by 14%. Elsewhere there was a 7.5% rise in the rest of Europe and a 6% increase in the US. Is the UK a front runner in online platform services, or reacting to the trends instigated by other markets?

Lehdonvirta commented: “Most online platform companies are based in the United States, and US employers have been the first to embrace them. But if you look at UK employers’ share of the online labour market and the share and relate it to the country’s total payroll size, you can say that UK employers are not far behind the US.”

In August, the UK job market faced its sharpest drop since 2009, as the Bank of England predicted unemployment would rise from 4.9% to 5.5%. Once online recruiting becomes more of a standard practice, will this lead to the online market mirroring these worrying trends?

Lehdonvirta replied: “As online labour markets get bigger, there will inevitably be a levelling off in their growth. But since online platforms allow employers to access labour across the globe, their growth won’t necessarily mirror trends in local labour markets.”


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