What’s your next Gig ?

Glastonbury, Reading, Festival, Bruce Springsteen or are you working an Uber shift tonight?

Gig is slang for a live musical performance. It derives from the word Engagement by Jazz musicians in the 1920’s. It has now become common usage for individual self employed ie the Gig Economy. Perhaps not immediately obvious but every job is an engagement.

What I do find odd is why this has become such a contentious part of our economy . Self employment as been around as long as wandering warriors selling their services to highest bidder. Today’s warrior is more likely to carry a mop and ladder, drive a cab, shine your shoes (still exist), sell ice cream , paint your house , mow your lawn, offer advice, black cab drivers, consultants of all kinds, musicians, actors and a myriad of other tasks including the skills of a warrior and performing a hit for a local gang. It is estimated there is best part of a million involved in the Gig Economy in the UK. The simple definition is if you are sick, on holiday or just cant work for any other reason you don’t get paid . Well nothing new there !

Any of these could be self employed

For many it works and has going on for centuries if not longer . It enables those who want to work, to work when they want and for many to do a variety of jobs. I have spoken to Uber drivers (there are apparently over 40,000 in London alone, so surely it cant be all bad) who are studying medicine, doing a MBA , semi retired looking for some pocket money , just fancy doing a bit now and again, but fundamentally it allows them to do what they want to do when they want to.

For many it allows them to earn when they would struggle to get a full time job. And yes, there are many organisations that abuse their self employed colleagues but for a huge number it is a choice. 40,000 Uber drivers in London are not all there because they have to . It is estimated that there are between 100,000 and 150,000 window cleaners in the UK. 57% of Hairdressing in the UK is accounted for by freelancers. The vast majority of plumbers, electricians, and brickies are all freelancers.

Freelance work has significantly increased in specific industries: from 2018 to 2019, there was a whopping 31% increase in people looking to get into freelance work. That said, the top freelance positions included dog walkers (60% increase), beauticians (159%), hairdressers (51%), photographers (91%), and bakers (68%).

Lindsay Liedke

This was pre-covid. Post Covid I suspect these figures could be a lot higher. The UK is the 2nd highest facilitator of freelancers. The US is the first. Whilst the EU does not figure in the top 10 ………

With more freelancers than ever making up the European workforce, the European Commission has made clear the European SME Definition should “acknowledge freelancers as a stand-alone category within the definition and legitimise the smallest of small businesses, those who – with a 45% increase since 2000 are the fastest growing segment of the EU labour market.”


You don’t get sick pay. You don’t get holiday entitlement . You don’t get Employers pension contributions. You don’t ‘paid for ‘ training . You don’t get redundancy payments You have to budget. When you get the chance you do ‘have to put away for rainy days’ literally and metaphorically.

  • The most popular freelance careers in all of the UK include: business support (22%), design (20%), and writing and translation (17%)
  • The number one location to freelance is Manchester thanks to low property costs and plenty of WiFi hotspots (Brighton & Hove, Edinburgh, and Belfast are right behind in popularity)
  • Freelancers average 27 hours of work per week, which is far less than the whole of Europe
  • 61% of freelancers are happy with their career choice
  • Those in freelance hated commuting, the stress, and not being the boss at their traditional corporate jobs

Money Supermarket

You can get job satisfaction. You can reap good financial rewards . You can have a good work/life balance. You are your own Boss . You don’t get fired. You have flexibility. You have the ability to reap what you sow.

It is not for all and for some it is a necessity and not choice, but for many it is the ‘perfect job or jobs‘.

There those that slag off the Gig Economy. Its to easy to do and invariably those that do are often the biggest users i.e. journalists and broadcasters .

My beef is tarring all with the same brush ‘Gig’. Lets retake Gig so we can look forward to going to Gigs again. Lets call those that want to be freelancers, Freelancers. Lets call those those that are manipulated and poorly paid Sweeps, or the Sweep Economy after the child chimney sweeps of Victorian Britain, who worked in disgusting conditions and rarely got paid anything.

And when you next need the services of your local freelance plumber/electrician/window cleaner/courier/mini cab driver/ hairdresser and you don’t feel they are fairly rewarded for their efforts. Give ’em a big tip.

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