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Gen Z is the generation most inclined toward freelancing: Upwork

August 29, 2018

Gen Z — the youngest segment of today’s adult workforce — is the most freelancing-inclined generation yet, according to the “Freelancing in America: 2017” report released today by Upwork.

The research found Gen Z, comprised of people born between 1997 and 2000, is freelancing by choice more than any other generation: Nearly half of adult working Gen Zers, 46%, freelanced last year. In addition, this generation is more likely than any other to pursue freelancing, with 73% saying they originally started by choice rather than necessity compared to 66% of baby boomers and 62% of millennials.

Other key takeaways from the data:

  • “The Net Generation” thinks tech-first to gain location flexibility: Gen Z, who are digital natives, believe technology makes it easier to find freelance work (74% agreed). In addition, tech is enabling them to work where they want; whether it’s in a co-working space, coffee shop or open-office, 41% of working Gen Zers said they work in a setting around other people — almost as many (39%) who said they work on-the-go.
  • Gen Z is among the least concerned about automation’s impact: Gen Z and baby boomers are least concerned about the impact of automation, with 31% and 23%, respectively, saying it will impact their livelihood. This is in contrast to millennials, who are most concerned at 44% saying automation will impact them.
  • Young professionals are more prepared for the future of work: Gen Z freelancers are proactively preparing more than any other generation with 58% having participated in skills-related education in the past six months versus 56% of millennials; 35% of Gen X; and 19% of baby boomers. As technology rapidly evolves, this younger demographic is keeping up with the need for increasingly specialized skills.

“It’s important that companies adjust their hiring strategies in order to work with the best young talent, which accounts for more people than Gen X and baby boomers and will be the majority of the workforce in the next five years,” Upwork CEO Stephane Kasriel said.

The research was conducted by independent research firm Edelman Intelligence and commissioned in partnership by Upwork and Freelancers Union. The online survey included 6,000 US adult working adults; of those, 2,173 were freelancers and 3,827 were non-freelancers. It was conducted between July 21 and Aug. 14, 2017.


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