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How the gig economy is benefiting savvy students – FE News

The pandemic has, in many ways, created the perfect storm for an increase in the gig economy. Figures reported by the Guardian last November indicated that 4.4million people took up some form of work offered by gig economy platforms, making them a substantial part of the UK workforce that is set to continue to grow.

College students are a demographic that is beginning to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the gig economy and use them to their advantage. With the ripple effects of the pandemic meaning more time to explore other options, combined with the unavailability of traditional “student jobs” such as shift work, many students have begun to see the benefits of this type of work.

This is not surprising considering the rising cost of tuition fees, with parliamentary figures indicating the average student debt is around £45,000. If students are to support themselves throughout college and prepare for graduation, they must be creative, self-directed, and highly motivated, and as more and more begin to embrace these new opportunities working, that’s exactly what we’re starting to see. So how exactly does the gig economy benefit undergraduates?


In many cases, students need to accept some form of part-time work to make ends meet, with a 2021 Save the Student survey revealing that 76% of undergraduates struggled to make ends meet. get out financially. However, a part-time job with rigid work schedules can often limit the time available to study, leading to increased academic pressure. This presents a very real danger of burnout as students struggle to cope with the demands of work and school.

The gig economy offers another way of doing things. This format of work, whether writing freelance content or helping a company with a larger marketing project, offers real flexibility. Not only can students work as and when they need to, but they can also more easily fit it into their school commitments.

Competitive advantage

The labor market is more crowded and competitive than ever. Securing a valuable role as a graduate means being able to stand head and shoulders above the rest of the competition. The task-based and project-based work made available to students through digital job markets has given students the opportunity to learn vital job skills even before leaving university, gaining real work experience. industry alongside their studies.

Advances in technology, along with the increase in on-demand work, have made it easier than ever for students to find new flexible and independent work opportunities to not only supplement their income, but also contribute to their education and life. their future career, and ensure they have that competitive advantage when it comes to entering the job market.

Vitally, this type of work also allows students to test out possible career paths before deciding which direction they want to go after graduation. This can pay significant dividends in the long run, with research from job search engine Adzuna indicating that workers who spend between 2 and 3 years in their first job earn higher average salaries over the course of their career.

Business spirit

A recent study published by Santander found that 24% of UK students set up their own business while still at university. This demonstrates the skills and initiative present in undergraduate students that have become essential for successfully navigating the financial pressures of continuing education.

The combination of academic study and real-world learning through project-based tasks are fantastic structures for students to recognize their own entrepreneurial skills. The gig economy has allowed students to essentially start their own micro-enterprises alongside their studies by allowing them to become independent in a chosen discipline or industry.

Prepare for success

Today’s students have had to become more adaptable, flexible and savvy than ever to successfully manage the pressures of rising debt, while managing their studies and preparing for a competitive job market after graduation.

We’ve seen undergraduates rise to these challenges by using the gig economy and advances in technology to do these three things. Digital job markets have allowed students to earn extra money, learn new skills, and gain valuable industry experience, all before leaving college. This new generation is redefining the gig economy and, more importantly, making it work for them.

By Joseph Black, co-founder of UniTaskr

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