Gig Economy: Uncovering Specialized Engineering and Consulting Talent
Ride hailing apps like Uber and Lyft have quickly transformed the landscape of the transportation sector, and the rise of on-demand services and associated business models have changed how individuals can earn revenue. As today’s work culture continues to evolve to accommodate more flexible schedules, the gig economy’s potential to advance companies that require specialized expertise is also becoming more evident.
In the engineering, procurement and consulting arena in particular, increasingly complex projects can benefit from support from subject matter experts that can bring new, innovative ideas to the table.
“The ability to quickly engage and deploy specialized talent enables organizations to broaden the pool of professional resources they can access to support client projects,” said Bob Welch, Vice President, COO of Black & Veatch Management Consulting, LLC. “Utilizing the talents of these contractors is a win-win for everyone. The contractor benefits by having more control over their projects and our clients benefit by being able to access experienced talent when they need it.”
Gig Economy Jobs on the Rise
It’s clear that today’s workforce increasingly favors flexibility. Data collected by employment search engine, Indeed, finds that searches for flexible work arrangements are up by 32 percent, suggesting that current job seekers desire alternative work schedules now more than ever. Whether it’s working virtually, utilizing an alternative work schedule such as 9-80, or entering a job rotational program, many professionals have adapted beyond the traditional model of going to work in the same office from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. Further, it’s just this sort of break in tradition—this mounting demand for job flexibility—that has led to the rise of the gig economy.
The gig economy, or a workforce consisting of short-term contractors and freelancers, emphasizes the separate contributions of individuals—on each “gig” rather than the whole operation. Examples might be the types of roles varying from social media influencers, Airbnb hosts, to graphic design and writing freelancers. The more informal, loose structure of the gig lifestyle is appealing to millennials and baby boomers alike, and the number of professionals choosing this career path is steadily increasing.
A 2017 Freelancing in America (FIA) survey conducted by Upwork and Freelancers Union estimates that 57.3 million people are performing some form of freelance work currently and that the U.S. gig workforce has been growing three times as fast as the U.S. workforce as a whole since 2014. Moreover, survey results confirm flexibility as a key driver of the gig economy’s appeal; the top advantages cited for contract work include having sole control over one’s schedule, projects and place of work.
Another top driver for seeking a contract or temporary role is the ability to earn extra income, and undoubtedly, the gig economy is proving itself lucrative. The FIA survey estimates that gig workers contribute about $1.4 trillion to the economy. Additionally, the benefits of embracing the freelancing/contracting lifestyle do not belong exclusively to the contractors themselves. Their clientele—businesses big and small—are also beginning to see that harnessing the power of the gig economy as essential to company growth.
Gig Workers Empower Companies
A recent report by the University of Oxford notes that use of freelancing platforms by Fortune 500 businesses has grown by 26 percent in the past year alone. And it’s easy to see why the relationship between companies and gig workers has become so symbiotic. As stated in Forbes, employing freelancers alongside existing full-time professionals “empowers companies of all sizes to concurrently and efficiently work on important growth projects while maintaining more control over the available budget.”
Since gig workers allow businesses to utilize top talent on an as-needed basis, organizations save long-term on recruiting and onboarding costs. On the other side of the coin, short-term work prevents gig workers from committing to a full-time role and allows them the freedom to focus on where their talents are most needed and the fields they are most interested in.
The Black & Veatch Knowledge Network (BVKN)
Black & Veatch has a long history of partnering with contractors through the traditional model, which adds great talent and value to the company’s diverse projects and clients. Black & Veatch will continue to partner with contractors in many business lines, however, Black & Veatch Management Consulting has responded to the growing “gig” economy through BVKN which allows the company to accommodate this shift in the workforce and capitalize on the great talent who want a less traditional contract role.
"The nature of the consulting work we do in the power, water, and oil and gas industries aligns well with ‘gig’ roles as staffing requirements can vary based on project and client needs. Additionally, as utility technology continues to evolve and M&A activity increases, we are able to offer the most knowledgeable teams to clients without limiting our resources," said Welch.
Black & Veatch recently launched the Black & Veatch Knowledge Network (BVKN) to provide these flexible employment opportunities, and is currently seeking candidates with expertise in advisory and planning, business and technology architecture and utility growth and performance.
Through platforms like BVKN, those seeking alternative employment options have avenues that make it easy to maximize their potential, as the gig economy continues to shape tomorrow’s workforce.