“World’s largest online workforce” Freelancer.com sees enterprises in desperate need of talent
“The defining characteristic of the 21st century will be competition for intellectual capital,” said Matt Barrie, CEO and founder of Freelancer.com.
When the online workspace Freelancer.com (ASX: FLN) started in 2009, most of its clients were outsourcing small projects worth $ 50 or $ 100 each in areas such as web design, copywriting, graphic design, data entry, and translation.
In just over a decade, this innovation, rooted in SMBs, has grown into a gigantic platform where 51 million people make a living and helping companies like Fortune 500 companies find talent around the world, with 85 Percent of projects awarded across borders and 68 percent will bid within a minute.
To put the impact of freelancers on the global job market into perspective, Walmart, the world’s largest private employer, has 2.3 million “partners” on its books, and Amazon’s workforce is roughly half that number. Australia’s largest job board SEEK (ASX: SEK) had more than 45 million job candidates on their Asia Pacific and Americas websites last year.
“As time went on, bigger and bigger companies started to use us, the tools got better, the human-computer interaction got better, our software got better, you could do more sophisticated things online, and now it’s being filtered to big companies”, Freelancer. com CEO and Founder Matt Barrie told Business News Australia.
“And big companies urgently need talent.”
A blue vision of the sky above the cloud
Barrie explains that the cloud-based employment trend has led to a democratization of the labor market, with the pandemic serving as a “Pandora’s Box” opening up the idea of working and hiring online for businesses and professionals, making the move permanent.
With its fundamental drivers accelerated by COVID-19, Freelancer.com reported a record gross payment volume of $ 249.7 million in the March quarter, an 18.8 percent year-over-year increase, despite the growth rate in USD That was more than doubled.
“The big picture is that we’re the largest online workforce in the world. We have 51 million people in our workforce, we have just completed 20 million projects in the last 24 hours and there is no other workforce that even comes close to this size, ”explains the executive.
“We’re in any country that has electricity and internet and we can operate legally and we have over 2,000 skills and we serve consumers to large businesses.”
Barrie explains three main reasons the platform has soared over the past year: people looking for work online because their industry is closed or damaged; Companies try to cut costs and find talent more efficiently; and startups are emerging and using new technology to find their human capital.
“At Fortune 500 and major global companies of this size, the C-Suite tells us directly that some of their workforce will come from the cloud in the future,” he says.
“They don’t know if it will be 5, 10, 25 or 50 percent or if it will be in three, five or 10 years, but it’s roughly in that range and COVID has accelerated everything, part of your workforce is becoming permanently virtual be.”
Not only is Freelancer.com capitalizing on this change through its service, it is even embedding its technology with some large multinational partners so they can find the right expertise for jobs in their own organizations.
“We help Deloitte achieve internal efficiency by helping their consultants to hire other consultants within Deloitte. So if you work in the London office and want to work with someone in the New York office, you can do that, ”he says.
“We have 22,000 consultants on this platform, which has grown to 50,000 today, and over 100,000 hours have been put in.”
The group is in the process of activating another feature for Deloitte MyGigs, which will give the group access to the 51 million freelancer employees organized into talent networks with a variety of skills, ratings, and verified company qualities.
“The third thing we’re going to do is benefit Deloitte customers, and our customers, Fortune 500 companies around the world, by going hand in hand with Deloitte to transform their workforce,” said Barrie.
“We also do things with other great partners around the world, for example with IBM, Airbus, Novo Nordisk, Unilever, whatever. This trend is not going away.
“The defining characteristic of the 21st century will be competition for intellectual capital.”
Cloud-based job prospects for Australia
Where does Australia fit in this puzzle?
As for Freelancer.com, statistics show that Australians – like professionals in most markets – are more likely to conduct a project through the platform with a foreign company rather than a local company, and Australian companies are finding wage arbitrage opportunities in emerging markets with strong educational backgrounds and English proficiency like the Philippines and India.
“As you gain more experience with the platform and experience hiring people online, the more likely you are to hire someone from the emerging market and pay more over time if you have a great experience,” explains Barrie.
“Australians tend to have higher niche skills. We have a reasonably good education system, although I don’t think we can keep up on the world stage.”
He says Australians thrive in an area where critical skills are required.
“If you have college education, domain experience, industry relationships, creative thinking, strategic thinking, or something special that brings you to the job – great customer service, whatever it is – that will increase your income and hiring willingness.
“The Australians are pretty much at the top there.”
Nonetheless, Barrie, who was an associate adjunct professor at the University of Sydney for 14 years, criticizes the Australian education system and the lack of doctoral degrees in engineering and computer science.
“We have the problem that we just don’t have enough skills in the country to do the jobs we have. We need to improve the skills to do higher paying jobs, and that will help grow a number of industries – technology, software, and so on, “explains the founder of Freelancer.com.
“To maintain our standard of living and our high wages, we need to produce products and services with higher margins and higher value.
“One of the fastest ways to improve the economy is through retraining and upskilling, because education is a lubricant for social mobility.”
While universities are heavily reliant on international students, Barrie believes there needs to be a realignment of domestic students to ensure Australia has the skills it needs for the future. This fulcrum would require better reach and interaction with the school system to make the children aware of the possibilities.
“Every young kid would love to work on self-driving cars, the next Facebook, the next Instagram, SpaceX, all sorts of crazy things, but they can’t tie the dots between what they learn in school and careers,” says Barrie.
“And if you don’t reach the students by 10th grade, they don’t know what to do. They choose their subjects according to a ranking created by a UAI (Universities Admission Index) and the students are indoctrinated ”that the top professions are law and medicine.
“We really need to fix this. And it’s something that can really make the economy really dramatic in a very short amount of time. Young children are already interested, they’d love to, and they have the ability to get into those professions – all that.” What you have to do is give them a career path and get it in your head. “
The executive also believes that online learning is an important part of Australia’s continuing education efforts.
“I took a mining engineering course because I was interested in investing in mining companies. I learned Chinese online, so I think it’s phenomenal that not only is education online now, but the world of work is online too.
“Let’s say you’ve always wanted to be a graphic designer or a programmer. You can study online for almost free or part-time free, and tiptoe a few hours a week to see a small project, see if you want to build your skills out, maybe work weekends, and eventually have the courage to jump into more formal educational programs online.
“There are a lot more options today than there were 20 years ago.”
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