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Gig Economy (Revision Webinar)

A-Level, IB
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 6 May 2019

Here is a video recording of the revision webinar on synoptic aspects of the Gig Economy. I have also provided detailed notes from the session.

The Gig Economy - Synoptic Economics Revision Webinar


The labour market changes all the time but in the last decade we have seen a fast-evolving landscape of more people being engaged in gig work and many on short term or zero hours contracts. The quality of work is a major issue when we discuss the gig economy. Who are the winners and losers from the new world of work?

Globalization, de-industrialisation, automation and digitization - all have had and continue to have a disruptive effect on traditional jobs and working practices in the UK.

The Gig Economy is an important synoptic topic because it cuts across many different areas of the A level course ranging from business objectives, costs and profitability, the labour market and aspects of macroeconomic performance such as unemployment, real living standards, economic-well-being and government finances.

A recent CIPD report began by saying that “The gig economy has so far proved hard to define, hard to measure and hard to interpret.”

The Gig Economy - Synoptic Economics Revision Webinar

How many workers are there in the Gig Economy?

In the gig economy, companies hire contingent workers, provisional employees who work for the organization on a non-permanent basis. According to John Gapper (writing in the Financial Times) the gig economy recasts employees as contractors, vendors and temporary workers. 4% of UK working adults aged between 18 and 70 are working in the ‘gig economy’ according to a recent CIPD report

Platforms drive the growth of the Gig Economy

Self-employment accounts for 45 per cent of the growth in UK employment since 2008 and now stands at five million people. Another definition of the “gig economy”— is that it comprises networks of people who make a living working without any formal employment agreement. For example, more than one in three USA workers are freelancers—a figure expected to grow to 40 percent by 2020.

Some of the rapid growth of the GIG economy can be traced to the impact of the last recession. Many employers now see short term contract work as a way of de-risking in an age of economic uncertainty.

Increasing labour market / employment flexibility

An increasing variety of agency work, temporary work, zero hours contracts or gig economy work has changed the ‘traditional’ patterns of work. These ‘atypical’ work models can be mainly linked to an increasingly flexible labour market and a high-rise in the self-employment rate (15 percent of total employment in 2016). Self-employed people in the UK are not covered by employment law. They have few rights at work, limited to protection for health and safety purposes, and some protection against discrimination."

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