The rise of the entrepreneurial individual, and what is currently referred to as the Gig Economy, will create new challenges and opportunities for distance learning administrators. How can institutions of education help learners create value for traditional employers and for their individual brands? If not as many people are investing in education to land a full-time job, what does this mean for higher education?
An emerging trend, the rise of global joblessness (International Labour Office, 2014), is supporting the growth of the Gig Economy while creating a need for the marketing of talents and skills in new and meaningful ways. The number of large employers is predicted to shrink in the future causing people to find new and inventive ways to make a living. The ability to sell, purchase and promote goods and services as well as individual brands on the Web has created a need for education to add value to the lives of learners in innovative ways. People are increasingly defining success for themselves, which does not always include a college degree and a 9-5 job. In many ways, it is now much cooler to be a successful start-up entrepreneur, famous blogger or YouTube sensation than a person working in a full-time job.
One common denominator will remain the same: People need to be found on the already crowded World Wide Web. They have to build their brands and levels of influence to strengthen both credibility and success. Educational institutions should keep a close eye on the rise of businesses like Fiverr.com and the use of Twesumes (Twitter + Resume = Twesume = a resume in 140 characters or less) to land jobs or gigs (thus, the #GigEconomy).
Leaders should also consider building their brands, as well as those of students, faculty and alumni. The rise of social networks and technology has enabled people to both learn and teach at anytime from any place. These same tools have helped people create their own businesses and design their lives in ways that best suit them, which supports the Living with Purpose and Meaning megatrend. Life purpose is shaping everything from healthcare to education.