Millennials, who are drawn to freelance work, have overtaken Generation X in the workforce.

Contingent employment is the new normal: Part 2

Nolan Gray Market Trends

A global, anytime workforce
The skills gap is a big problem in the U.S. A 2014 report from CareerBuilder found more than 80 percent of employers find it difficult to fill job vacancies. Most employers believe education gaps are primarily to blame. In the U.S., at least, students aren't gaining education for skills that are in the highest demand, making it near impossible for some companies to fill the roles they need the most.

With broadening skills gaps plaguing many companies across the country, firms will have to widen their reach to find candidates that fit their needs. Luckily, cloud-based platforms and flexible work regimens enable companies to extend their reach globally. Workplaces will be comprised of remote teams with employees from all over the world.

The availability of talent worldwide will lead to more specialization of skills. There will be less of a need for employers to hire one-size-fits-all talent for a full-time position. Instead, employers can seek out highly specialized employees for specific roles.

Global workforce imageThe workforce is now global.

Millennials take center stage
Millennials themselves are changing the way businesses work by choosing employment on their own terms. Having grown up in an age of social connectivity, millennials have different expectations of work than the generations that came before them.

According to a report from Freelancers Union and Elance oDesk, millennials are more likely than their older peers to be part of the freelance economy. Thirty-eight percent of millennials freelance, compared to 32 percent of those over age 35. When asked what they liked about freelancing compared to more traditional work, they cited the freedom to set their own schedules, balance work and family life, and pursue their interests.

Millennials recently surpassed GenXers to become the largest percentage of the workforce, Pew Research reported. As these employees continue to embrace freelance and contingent work, it's a sure sign the paradigm will keep shifting.

Staffing firms take advantage
In this new contingent work model, staffing firms and companies that operate like staffing firms will be the most likely to succeed. Companies no longer have to rely on local candidates when they have the entire global workforce at their fingertips. In an environment where companies desire anytime, anywhere employment, staffing firms can easily assert their value as partners. The agencies that are able to find top-tier candidates and place them quickly will gain a serious advantage in the new work paradigm.

"Staffing firms will assert their value as partners."

While opening up the talent pool to include remote workers benefits companies in the long run, it will also be difficult for companies to manage recruiting themselves in this environment. Outsourcing recruitment is likely to become more standard than it is today. Staffing firms whose sole focus is seeking out and retaining talent with unique specifications will be a valuable resource for larger companies.

Finding success in a global, always-on talent marketplace will be contingent on having the right tools and processes. Staffing firms that are able to move nimbly when they receive a placement request will become go-to partners for their clients. Staffing firms will no longer just be vendors, but valuable business partners, leveraging their experience in the talent marketplace to give their clients a competitive edge.

In a work environment that is evolving quickly, staffing agencies need to focus on innovation and leverage the best applicant tracking systems and databases available to them. If staffing agencies invest in the right strategies, they can expect enormous growth in the years ahead.