Millennials, Gen Z flock to freelance work as job market tightens

author-avatar By on September 23, 2021
Millennials, Gen Z flock to freelance work as job market tightens

Lockdowns and reduced hours for Aussie Millennials and Gen Zs have forced many to freelance their way to an income using online platforms such as Fiverr and Airtasker.

Australia-based talent platform Airtasker reported a revenue increase of 38% for the 2020-21 financial year. 

In May this year, freelance platform Fiverr announced that internationally, freelancers selling digital services collectively earned more than USD $2 billion.

YouGov research revealed that Gen Z led the charge embracing the 'flexible economy' in Australia.

The report found 42% of Zoomers have made money on platforms such as Airtasker or Fiverr, and 28% plan to in the future.

Emilie Pomeroy, 21, found herself out of work during lockdowns over the past year, but turned to online freelance platform Fiverr, to turn her video editing skills into a steady income stream.

"I started doing fiverr in February 2021 so it was still during Covid but not during lockdown. Every time Brisbane has snap lockdowns now I can still continue on working," Ms Pomeroy told Savings.com.au.

"I create video and photo content for businesses to use for their marketing. This can be businesses selling products or services."

Ms Pomeroy said that not only did her freelance work help her earn money during lockdowns, but it also helped progress her career.

"It’s let me work for myself and control my earnings, all from home," she said.

"It has helped me grow my resume and experience with content creation too which helped me get a professional job in the marketing industry. It’s also just a fun and enjoyable side hustle that I like to do."

She also said that she isn’t surprised young Aussies have turned to freelance work to turn their skillset into income.

"Covid has shown how it's important to have multiple streams of income, since you could lose your job at any time," Ms Pomeroy said.

"So freelance platforms like Fiverr are great as they allow you to easily build up a side hustle and extra income stream on the side.

"I think a lot of young Australians are financially savvy and want to build up multiple streams of income."

Airtasker CEO Tim Fung said that Airtasker allows Gen Z and Millennials to monetise their skills. 

"As work life balance becomes more of a priority, and Gen Z have had the opportunity to experience flexible working, it's not surprising that we’re seeing this shift in the way they view work."

The report found that some of the most successful individuals on the platform specialised in App and Web design. 

Youth unemployment and underemployment (15 to 24 year olds) is generally much higher and more volatile and seasonal than the general population (chart below).

ABS data shows the overall unemployment skyrocketed to 7.4% during the pandemic.

In seasonally adjusted terms, in August 2021, monthly hours worked in all jobs:

  • ​​​​​Decreased by 66.0 million hours (3.7%) to 1,714 million hours

  • Decreased by 51.0 million hours (2.9%) from March 2020

This shows that although unemployment is improving, those with a job are not necessarily working the same number of hours as pre-pandemic, reflected in underemployment and participation rates.

In seasonally adjusted terms, in August 2021:

  • The underemployment rate increased by 1.0 pts to 9.3%

  • The underemployment rate was 0.5 pts higher than March 2020

  • The underutilisation rate increased by 0.9 pts to 13.8%

Youth employment expert Zoe Piper explained how the rise of flexible hours and the pandemic has influenced a generation of workers using freelance work to make money. 

"Put that in the COVID-context, where Gen Z were amongst the hardest hit during lockdowns, there is also a desire to take control of their finances and monetise their skills in other ways," Ms Piper said.

"The passion project holy grail is not a distant reality, saved for retirement, but a genuine employment preference.”

During the pandemic, jobs such as bicycle repairs, home office IT support and virtual fitness trainers also emerged as popular tasks on Airtasker. 

This, along with more mainstream tasks like feature writing, data, IT and App design, provided many out of work Millennials and Gen Z with an income stream. 

Australian startup Canva recently published a report analysing freelance work in Australia, estimating freelancers have earned $139,458 on Fiverr.

Canva calculated the top ten side hustles for making money in Australia.

Job Total Sales

Average cost per job

 

Proofreading and editing

$14,593

$121

3D and 2D modelling

$7,235

$126

Blog post services

$4,375

$36.1

Illustration

$4,217

$42.1

Social media advertising

$3,783

$29.5

SEO services

$3,354

$85.8

Video Editor

$2,353

$19.6

Ghostwriting

$2,353

$28.3

Animation

$1,807

$19.6

Website design

$1,677

$45

Source: Canva

According to the report, the average cost per side hustle-type job, 3D and 2D modeling is the most lucrative service advertised by part-time freelancers in Australia.

Side hustle sellers on average charge $126 for each 3D and 2D modeling job on the website, exceeding other high-earning services like proofreading and editing.

According to Canva's report, freelance job completions increased by 6.5% from pre-pandemic lockdowns to during pandemic lockdowns.

"I’m really stoked to see the Airtasker marketplace create more job and income opportunities than ever," Airtasker Co-founder and CEO Tim Fung said.

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Image by Jason Strull via Unsplash

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author-avatar
Aaron joined Savings.com.au in 2021. He is a finance journalist with a keen interest in property, the share market, and improving financial literacy in young Australians.

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