Is Canada Headed to a Freelancer Economy or Driving Out Productivity?

by Edelman

2 min read

There are advantages and disadvantages of the “Global Village” that we live in. You can find out when an uprising begins on the other side of the world via Twitter within moments. You can get your hands on information within seconds that would have been nearly impossible for the average person only a few decades ago. However as small businesses are joining large enterprises in competing for business on a global stage, a new reality is facing those entering the job market, and those who are trying to re-enter it.

A recent Intuit study showed that a large percentage of the economic growth in Canada over the past few years has been fueled by small business. These numbers will likely grow as the world evolves. Even the largest of companies are leveraging freelance resources for skills such as software development, copywriting, digital marketing, video game and mobile application development. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, Canada ranks in the top four in terms of hiring freelance workers, however we don’t rank as high as far as doing the freelance work. The U.S., India, Pakistan and the Philippines are in the top four.

If we are sending our dollars out of the country for freelance technical and creative work, and the cost of talent in these pursuits is being driven down by activities like article “spinning” (where one contractor subcontracts work out to another for lower rates) where does that leave Canadians that could fill those roles? We are rated as laggards in areas such as adoption of Cloud adoption and over all innovation compared to our peer countries by the Conference Board of Canada.

By contracting based on lowest price on sites like Elance, ODesk, Guru and Freelancer are we shooting ourselves in the proverbial maple syrup coated foot? American students and other independent contractors are picking up work by the armload, and some of those contracts are being spun off to countries like India and Pakistan for a few dollars an hour. Often that work is done for Canadian employers ranging from Real Estate brokerages to advertising firms and software companies. It’s not just call centers, clothing manufacturing and tech support that is being offshored to the Asian countries. Virtual assistants, SEO consultants, Web developers and just about any profession that you can think of that involves the internet, a phone line and individuals with enough training and qualifications to pass exams and gain the trust of companies that hire and recommend them to others.

There are a few Canadian freelance sites such as FreelanceWritingJobs.ca and JeffGaulin.com which is a Journalism job board. If you are brave enough to take on freelancing as a full time career, there are even Cloud solutions like Powerlancer that can help you manage your projects from multiple sites and keep track of contacts and time. And if you become a successful freelancer, you can even utilize QuickBooks Online bookkeeping software to balance your professional books.

What are your thoughts on the trend towards freelancers on the world stage and/or here in Canada? Are you ready to leap into the fray of freelancing as an alternative stream of income or even your primary income strategy?

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