Never in the history of mankind has the labor market and the ways of providing work changed so dynamically as in the last few decades. The reason for these changes is technological progress, which has given us new tools to revolutionize the methods of production, distribution, trade, or information exchange. As technology advances and society’s general level of prosperity increases, it has become apparent that the work model proposed by Henry Ford does not always meet the needs of the labor market.
As indicated by research, people performing alternative forms of work activity to the classic employment contract, such as those working through online platforms, now account for as much as 36% of the total workforce in the United States. At the same time, it is predicted that by 2027 there will be more than half of them. This trend, although still not as strong, is also visible in Europe and Poland. Probably by 2025, about 1 million people in our country will be so-called GIGers (from the term GIGeconomy).
The change in the perception of work and the accelerated evolution of the market was undoubtedly influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, which popularized remote working. According to the Central Statistical Office, at its peak, remote work was performed in Poland by more than 14% of all employees. At the same time, most employers, even after the end of the pandemic, plan to use this form of employment, although mostly in hybrid form – partly remotely and partly from the office. Employees themselves appreciate this form of performing duties, and according to some data, even ¾ of them would like to have a permanent opportunity to perform hybrid work.
Solutions such as platform work, which gives workers a great deal of flexibility in the type and number of jobs they take on and the hours they work, are also gaining popularity. Thanks to this, people taking up employment through platforms, often young people, have the opportunity to gain their first work experience and earn their first money, while reconciling work with studies, other duties and private life. What is important, it is young people who will have the greatest impact on changes in the labor market in the coming years, because it is estimated that in 2025 as much as 75% of workers will belong to the generation of “millenials” and next, and it is for these generations that the digital revolution is an everyday reality and a completely natural phenomenon.
It is also worth pointing out that the migration of refugees from Ukraine in connection with the Russian aggression will also have an undeniable impact on the Polish labor market. In fact, at the beginning of April 2022, there were 2.5 million people fleeing the war in our country. At the same time, many men left Poland, who constituted a significant part of the workforce, for example, in the construction or transport industry. These phenomena in the near future will be a big challenge for our labor market and may cause numerous structural problems, but at the same time may be a great opportunity. Some industries will experience even greater problems with finding employees, while others will have the opportunity to fill vacancies. It is also important to note that alternative forms of employment are very popular among foreigners, especially platform work, which allows quick entry into the labor market even without language skills.
Unfortunately, both national and European legislators increasingly perceive alternative forms of employment as a threat and seek to strictly regulate them. It should be noted that potential legal changes that affect the labour market, including flexible forms of employment, should be preceded by a careful study of the market and its needs, as well as the impact of regulations on economic reality. Models of providing work are subject to constant changes and evolve in order to respond to current social needs, and legal norms should not be constructed in such a way that one mode of providing work is considered as the only acceptable one. Ultimately, the market should have a range of coexisting models, enabling as many people as possible to be gainfully employed in accordance with their preferences.