In the gig economy, self-employed and contingent workers find work through digital platforms and other avenues. Developing strategies to serve these freelance or gig workers is challenging, and public workforce agencies rely on research about the gig economy and the needs of these types of workers to understand and address these challenges. These two resources highlight ways to support gig workers, including public employment markets, skills trainings, networking events, and employer engagement.

Beyond Gig Work: Public Markets for Irregular Employment. 2017. This report describes the growth of irregular employment, and strategies proposed by a group of 24 workforce development boards and agencies to strengthen this new economy. It notes that “the accelerating trend to irregularity is barely captured in official labor market statistics. But the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office…estimates that 33 percent of America’s workforce may already be in non-standard employment.” The report recommends that workforce bodies embrace irregular employment and take a role in creating public markets, which would be “run by each state to match job-seekers and openings in any sector.” The report also finds that irregular employment is a trend that will only increase; delaying action in the absence of formal data on gig workers could cause economic hardship; awareness of irregular work is needed to unite stakeholders; and successful pilots could “create a replicable template for potentially wide impact.”

The Freelance Economy and Workforce System Meet in the Bay Area. 2016. This resource describes strategies piloted by the San Francisco workforce development system to serve gig workers under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The findings are based on a survey of 713 freelance technology contract workers in the Bay Area, and focus groups and interviews with the companies that hire them. The report explores how contract workers are served within WIOA guidelines. The study identifies “shorter-term ‘boot camp’-like training” under the category of occupational skills training, and informal networking events as “job placement, retention and advancement services…allowable under WIOA”. The report also recommends building the capacity of employers that contract with freelancers to “create stability and good career opportunities for their contract workers.”