Press Release

Private sector looks to independent professionals to help address multiple competitive pressures

Leading UK and international companies are driving rapid growth at the top of the so-called professional "gig economy" as they strive to maintain growth in challenging economic times, the Taylor review on modern employment has been told.

Odgers Connect, a subsidiary of the global executive search firm Odgers Berndtson, was formed to meet rising demand from businesses for independent professional consultants. In evidence to the Taylor review, the firm says surging demand from big companies is driving the professional gig economy and, whilst vital to the health of the private sector, is often misunderstood or ignored.

"There are concerns about the low-end gig economy but at the high end it’s a very different story. We’re seeing rapid growth in opportunities for skilled independent professionals," said Chris Preston, managing partner of Odgers Connect. "Strong demand from leading public and private companies is re-shaping professional work and we believe this is essential for a healthy private sector."

"To maintain growth and succeed in the global economy – particularly given the uncertainties around Brexit, digital transformation and geo-politics – companies need to explore and develop the most effective growth paths," Mr Preston writes in his submission to Taylor. "If they cannot manage this effectively, their continuing success, the livelihoods of all those they employ, and indeed the health of the UK private sector, is at risk."

"It is important to note that not only consultants seek greater flexibility," the submission notes. "Increasingly companies want this too, as they strive to address changing talent needs. The benefits to a company buying services in new ways, such as from an independent consultant, have thus far received relatively little attention but are fundamental because they are driving this segment of the workplace. Without increasing demand for professional gig workers this high-end sector would not exist."

Independent professional consultants themselves are, Odgers Connect notes, a highly diverse group of professionals who are often poorly served by conventional employment, or see consultancy as a means to fund a new enterprise or start-up.

"We see a highly diverse group of professional people with many reasons for choosing to work independently," Mr Preston notes. "Some are looking for a better work/life balance, perhaps trying to juggle professional careers with family commitments, whilst others are using earnings from consultancy projects to re-train, fund the creation of their own start-up companies, or underpin portfolio careers."

These options are typically incompatible with a conventional professional career, particularly for some. "Many of the older group of senior consultants work independently as an alternative to not working at all – since beyond a certain age high level positions in conventional firms can be hard to find," Mr Preston notes.

Odgers Connect is the most recently-formed subsidiary of Odgers Berndtson, a leading international executive search firm operating in over 50 offices across EMEA, North and South America and Asia Pacific. The firm, which has recently acted for more than two-thirds of companies in the UK FTSE100, offers a wide range of role and sector expertise to find and develop senior executives and non-executive for quoted and privately held businesses and public organisations.

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