In a recent RSA report evaluating the UK gig economy, we found it useful to group gig work into three main categories:
- Professional, creative or administrative services
- Skilled manual or personal services
- Driving and delivery services
Well over half (59 percent) of gig workers are found in professional, creative, or administrative services. This was to be expected given that before the rise of the ‘sharing economy’, platforms had been established mainly for freelancers, such as copy editors or graphic designers, interested in finding consultancy opportunities.
A significant number of gig workers provide skilled manual services, such as plumbing, electrical maintenance, or carpentry. Workers in the skilled trades who are self-employed have long been sourcing jobs online through platforms such as MyBuilder and Rated People, both of which were founded circa 2005.
It may surprise some that gig workers providing driving and delivery services were found to be in the minority. This may be because of the high visibility of these workers on our roads in contrast with freelancers working from home, or for example, plumbers or electricians disappearing into other people’s homes to carry out their tasks.
However, given that driving and delivery platforms were the most recent to be established in the UK, this too should tally with our expectations. This is still a substantial share of gig work given these platforms only emerged within the last five years.