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February 17, 2016

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Graphic: ‘Gigs’, not careers, may be future of work

In her fourth graphic for SHP, Helen Beers explains why the traditional career for life might become a thing of the past. 

As the working world evolves, the traditional ‘career for life’ may become a thing of the past. The Foresight Centre at HSE’s Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) anticipates that, in the future, people will work ‘gigs’ rather than having full time, continuous work, for one employer.

The ‘gig’ economy describes a working world in which temporary positions are common and organisations contract with independent workers for short-term contracts.  People who work ‘gigs’ are likely to have multiple jobs at any one time, working for different employers.  These jobs are more likely to be part-time, temporary, freelance or self-employed. Already, 79% of Human Resource decision makers expect employees to have multiple simultaneous careers by 2018, and 60% think workers will be hired on temporary contracts or working as contractors or freelancers.

If movement between several jobs or careers becomes the norm, the perceived stability of a single ‘career for life’ will largely be lost. As more people adopt ‘gig’-based working lives the numbers of those who are vulnerable to unsafe, hazardous working conditions will potentially increase. The emergence of this ‘gig’ economy may raise difficult questions about workplace protection and what a ‘good’ job will look like in the future.

It is possible that changes in working practices, and a move towards more precarious (insecure) working (such as work that is part-time, self-employed, fixed-term, temporary or on-call) are associated with a deterioration in occupational health and safety and could result in increases in injury rates, stress, harmful exposures and risk of disease, for example.


Helen BeersDr Helen Beers  joined HSL in 2009 with responsibility for leading HSL’s social research work. She is currently the Technical Team Lead within HSL’s Foresight Centre, where her work focuses on demographics and ageing. Helen has a PhD in Health Psychology and prior to joining HSL worked within the health, education and finance sectors.







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[…] Helen Beers wrote in ‘Gigs’, not careers, may be future of work that “Already, 79% of Human Resource decision makers expect employees to have multiple simultaneous […]