Gen Z’s role in the growing UK gig economy

Gen Z’s Role in the Growing UK Gig Economy

The UK gig economy is increasing year-on-year, with Gen Z acting as one of the key driving forces.

Gig economy Gen Z

What is the gig economy?

According to government resources, the gig economy is defined as “the exchange of labour for money between individuals or companies via digital platforms that actively facilitate matching between providers and customers, on a short-term and payment by task basis.”

What is the value of the gig economy in the UK?

The gig economy is a growing sector in the UK with recent data from the NatCen Panel revealing that 4.4% of the British population have worked in the gig economy during the last 12 months – roughly 2.8 million people.

Although the incomes associated with gig economy work tend to be relatively low, gig-based freelancers contribute around £20 billion to the British economy annually; more or less the equivalent of the Aerospace industry.

When breaking down this figure, around 16% (£3.2 billion) comes from services such as Uber and Deliveroo drivers.

Experts predict that the gig economy could grow to reach a £63.25 billion contribution to the UK economy by 2026.

What jobs are people doing in the gig economy?

When looking at the types of different gig economy work, courier services was one of the most common, representing around 42% of gig economy jobs in the last year. Other roles that were quite frequent were transport services and food delivery services. A large proportion of people working in the gig economy had found their jobs through websites or apps as well as specific freelancing platforms.

Looking at the key factors of why people choose to work in the gig economy, respondents highlighted flexibility and independence as the main reasons. Income and work-related benefits, on the other hand, were not typically advantages that were associated with gig economy work.

Who is working in the gig economy?

Much of the research surrounding the gig economy indicates that the sector is mainly driven by the younger demographic. In research from Wonolo, it was found that those aged 16-24 (Gen Z) represented 31.5% of the workforce and those 25-34 made up 16.4% of the gig workforce. Uk government data also supported this finding that 56% of those working in the gig sector were aged between 18 and 34 years old. There was a direct correlation between increase in age and decrease in participation of gig activities – one of the reasons cited for this is the physically demanding nature of many of the gig jobs.

Another key reason for Generation Z’s involvement in the gig economy is the tech-focused nature of their worlds. Having grown up in a predominately digital world, it is logical that they are also harnessing tech to fit employment around their schedules.

As more Gen Z enters the workforce in the coming years, it is expected that the prevalence of Gen Z in gig economy work is only going to grow.