Startups are a rapidly growing segment of the workforce. How will this shape the jobs and skills of the future?
Global predictions estimate that independent and remote workers will make up 40% of the workforce by 2020, including gig workers, self employed workers, freelancers, startups, home-based businesses and small business that operate predominantly or exclusively online.
New technology has enabled independent workers, one-person and small businesses to cooperate, collaborate and coordinate with each other, as well as larger organisations, despite geographical boundaries. However, many questions around the required enabling technology, work opportunities, culture, productivity of this emerging workforce remain unanswered.
The startup ecosystem is ripe for observation and research in this area for a number of reasons.
First, the startup model of lean, agile and technology enabled operation is geared towards global scale and high growth, meaning that job creation can be rapid and easily facilitated.
Ecosystem measurement is also on the rise, with state government initiatives such as Advance Queensland and surveys like Startup Muster showing the startup segment is gaining momentum in size, activity and investment.
Startups are also a potential training ground for the development of new skills, which will help ensure young Australians have the skills and experience for the jobs of the future, not the past.
In terms of job numbers and economic impact, startups have an important role to play in creating the jobs of the future in the digital economy. Startups and entrepreneurship are a growing source of new employment and work opportunities, having already created 1.44 million jobs in the Australian economy between 2006 and 2011.
One report identified the tech startup sector as having the potential to contribute $109 billion or 4% Gross Domestic Product to the Australian economy and 540,000 jobs by 2033. Other reports show that without startups, there would be no net job creation in the US economy.
In light of these emerging trends of job creation and future skills, perhaps we could view startups as the petri dish in which to study the Future of Work?
Startups offer an alternative model within which the future of work may be realised through innovative new ventures that create employment for the entrepreneurs themselves, and through growth and scale, create new jobs for direct employment, outsourced employment opportunities for the gig economy, and even new industries.