Temp Jobs: Preparing for the Workplace of the Future

Temp Jobs: Preparing for the Workplace of the Future

By: Daniel Steingold | July 22, 2016

While they weren’t as much a way of the past, temp jobs have become popular for job seekers in this day and age.

Data from the American Staffing Association (ASA) released in late 2014 showed that U.S. staffing companies employed an average of 3.26 million temporary and contract workers in the third quarter of 2014, which represented a 6.1 percent increase from the same period in 2013.

Another set of official statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce in May 2015 state that temporary positions now make up 2.4 percent of all private sector jobs.

It’s important to note that this shift towards hiring temporary workers has been forecasted for many years now.

Back in 2011, Fortune highlighted how many employed individuals who would’ve before been considered hired full-time by a company were instead being relegated to temporary worker status.

As there is a good possibility you’ll one day be presented with the opportunity to be a temporary worker, this blog post will help you determine whether a temp job is right for you, by weighing both the pros and cons.

Benefits to Being a Temporary Worker

For many, the main benefit to being a temp worker is that it allows one to enter an industry more easily.

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If you have little to no relevant education or work experience in any given industry, it can be hard to even have anything beyond your resume read. It becomes a Catch-22: you need previous experience to be considered for a position, but you can’t get that experience without an entry-level position.

Put simply, temp work can allow you to more easily get that entry-level experience.

It should also be noted that temp work allows one to enter an industry with minimal commitment. It can be seen as a trial run for both the employer and employee.

Speaking of trial runs, many who perform temp jobs well are rewarded with a full time employment offer. According to the ASA, 72 percent of temps are offered permanent positions with the companies for whom they temp.

ASA’s data also shows other benefits for temp workers.

70 percent of temps are said to learn new skills on the job, while 90 percent receive formal training in new areas.

Temp jobs also are often much more flexible in terms of schedule, and they will definitely challenge you to learn quickly and show your skills from the get-go.

Oh, and they pay. The ASA notes that temp jobs pay more than $10 an hour on average.

Usually, one can find a temp job by signing up with a staffing agency.

Disadvantages to Being a Temporary Worker

Although there are a number of benefits to a temp job, there is a reason that they have drawn stigma in many circles.

Temp jobs, first of all, can be very short in duration. Oftentimes, they are a month or shorter in length, which makes freelancing and contract jobs better for those who want flexibility, yet more job security.

It should also be noted that you often have to make a sacrifice in terms of pay and benefits when taking on a temp job.

Let’s start with pay: temp workers are said to get paid over 10 percent less than full-time workers. While some professions generally see a larger disparity (careers in education) and others see less of a pay gap between temp-and full-time workers (careers in construction), the average temp worker makes significantly less.

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A study conducted by alumni of the Y Combinator and Stanford University found that low wages are the primary reason that workers with non-traditional work statuses— think temp workers, gig economy workers, freelancers, etc.— end up quitting their job.

As for the lack of benefits, many temp jobs do not allow employees to accrue paid vacation or sick days. Beyond this, healthcare and other forms of insurance are less than half as likely to be provided.

Lastly, research conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that temps are two-thirds less likely to have a work-sanctioned retirement plan. As Social Security becomes less secure, an employer-provided, much less matching, plan is vital.

Future of Temp Jobs

While it is difficult to precisely forecast the future popularity of temp jobs, they’re likely not going anywhere.

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It appears very likely that contingent employment will become the norm for many groups of people, whether this be freelancers or temp workers. Particularly with the rise of automation and specialization, firms will begin to look for immediate workers on a contract or project basis.

By 2019, it is projected that there will be 40 million independent workers in the U.S., and from 2009 to 2012, the ranks of temp workers increased by 40 percent.

For those looking to be independent workers outside of temp work, there are a diverse set of apps and sites that have begun to cater to these individuals, including Upwork and Wonolo.

While not all will want temp or freelance work, it will almost certainly be widely available.

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