SOURCE: MBO Partners

MBO Partners

December 20, 2011 09:00 ET

Majority of Workforce Will Be Independent by 2020

MBO Partners 2012 Independent Work Predictions Reveal Top 5 Trends Shaping the Future of Work

HERNDON, VA--(Marketwire - Dec 20, 2011) - MBO Partners, the leader in the $250-billion-and-growing independent consulting sector in America, released its 2012 Independent Work Preview today, outlining five key predictions that will shape the independent work landscape in the coming year.

In 2011, the inaugural MBO Partners Independent Workforce Index showed that there are 16 million career independent workers in the country today. By 2020, the US will see an independent majority as professionals across the generations embrace independent work as an increasingly viable option that allows them to contribute meaningful work to the economy, on their own terms.

MBO Partners' top five trend predictions for the coming year include:

Prediction Number One -- One is the New Majority. The US is entering the fast lane on the road to the independent majority. By the year 2020, MBO Partners predicts that 70 million people, more than 50 percent of the private workforce, will be independent. This shift toward a new workforce will accelerate in 2012 as both individuals and organizations embrace new models of work. Flexibility and autonomy are two key drivers of this trend with 74% of independents indicating that flexibility is more important than making the most money and 60% indicating they always wanted to be their own boss.

At the same time, the new generation of independent workers will adopt a "make my own way solopreneur" mindset and behave like businesses rather than employees. The entrepreneurial mindset will ripple throughout the American workforce with professionals functioning as independent brands both inside and outside the corporate enterprise.

Prediction Number Two -- A Growing Demand for Experts and Seasoned Skilled Workers. The future workforce will largely be made up of experts and seasoned skilled workers, including a greater number of mature workers (those aged 55 and older) starting independent careers based on acquired expertise. Of today's 16 million career independent workers, seven in 10 are experts whose occupation requires specialized training, skills or education, and 40% are mature professionals.

Independent work provides seasoned professionals the best of both worlds -- they can remain active and engaged but also control when and how much they work, continuing to provide meaningful social and financial contributions to the workforce. With retirement nest eggs cracked by the recession, many older workers were forced to return to work. Additionally, many retirees have discovered that simply they're not ready to stop work. The new independent career path enables the ability to earn the income without the demands of a traditional job. According to the MBO Partners Independent Workforce Index, mature workers (aged 65+) are the most fulfilled by being independent, with 86% responding they are highly satisfied with their work.

Just as professionals are embracing new expert careers, independent experts are also becoming the talent-of-choice for some of the world's most successful enterprises, as a recent Aberdeen study of organizations hiring contract talent reveals. The study found that the top reason companies choose independent talent is not cost -- as is often assumed -- but rather access to specialists with unique skills and talents that produce breakthrough results.

Prediction Number Three -- Independence is Fueled as New Social Communities and Collaborative Technologies Continue to Rise. Due to the growing adoption of collaborative cloud computing tools and social networks, there is a new level of community building in the workforce. Online communities have been formed around work interests, industries, and skill sets, much like traditional associations or networking groups. Professionals are employing these new social channels to find work and companies are tapping into these specialized networks to locate expert talent. The proliferation of these work-related social communities allows independents to find jobs, create project-based teams/partnerships and support professional development. Further, cloud-services and mobile devices eliminate the barriers imposed by physical location and geography, enabling the workforce to truly become location-independent.

Prediction Number Four -- The Backlash: Increased Regulation and Tighter Enforcement. In the last two months alone, there has been a surge in government regulations and class action lawsuits around the issue of worker misclassification (where companies are accused of treating employees as independent contractors for the purpose of avoiding payroll taxes, benefits, and other employer obligations). MBO Partners does not see this trend stopping -- it will likely remain at pace and should further increase in 2012. In 2011, seven misclassification laws were passed in six states. Looking forward to 2012, there are already 14 additional bills under review that could clear in early 2012. As a result, in 2012, MBO Partners believes that the private sector will take the lead on addressing how current work programs, regulations and responsibilities should fit into the new model of work and continue to enable the funding of important government obligations such as tax collection. The new solution set that will succeed will need to add to, not dilute, what is already in place; it must include financial transaction systems combined with an infrastructure platform that addresses the full spectrum of considerations from legal to tax to benefits.

Prediction Number Five -- Independent Workers will require a 'Passport for Independence.' With more than half of the American workforce on track to independence by 2020, old rules and systems will no longer apply. A 'passport for independence' -- a platform that enables independent workers to move from project to project and company to company with better, more robust systems, safety nets and the tools to support them as compliant, independent businesses -- becomes essential.

This passport would enable independent workers to build a custom infrastructure that could include retirement and healthcare programs while installing the necessary protection to insulate their clients from misclassification risks.

"The rise of the independent is changing the workforce in exciting ways, unleashing new methods of productivity, wealth and how we define work success," says Gene Zaino, CEO of MBO Partners. "It also illuminates an increase in need for a mechanism to support this new way to work. We need an approach that empowers independent professionals to easily operate as responsible businesses equipped with efficient and safe systems that pay into, and overlay onto, the taxation and regulatory systems that are already engrained into our society. This new breed of independent worker wants to be liberated from traditional employment. This means going beyond simple flexible work hours or corporate telecommuting or working on contingent assignments through a staffing company. It requires true self-employability. For more than two decades, MBO Partners has been delivering and perfecting this passport for independence, with all the necessary structural elements in place. We are proud to be a company that can accelerate this workforce shift and support the independent as our customer. We are bullish on what will happen in 2012 and our own company's role in helping to fuel and support the growth of this very strategic independent workforce sector."

About MBO Partners
For more than 25 years, MBO Partners has led the $250 billion-and-growing independent consulting sector in America. Our services make it easy for independent consultants and their clients to do business. For independent consultants, MBO Partners manages their entire business infrastructure. Our platform includes a proprietary process to handle contract administration, business insurances, health and retirement benefits, expense management, tax withholding, and more. We couple this with the benefits of direct vendor access into enterprises and the "white glove" attention of a dedicated business manager for every consultant. For organizations that use contract talent, the MBO Enterprise Solutions team provides a complete independent contractor aggregation and engagement offering, including compliance and payment solutions for 1099s, sole proprietors and micro-businesses. To learn more, visit:

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