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The futurist: The great freelancer movement

(Editor's note: This is the first of two parts.)

By 2025, more than 75 percent of the workforce will be comprised of Millennials, a group many refer to as the Facebook generation. That’s just over 11 years away. 

For big corporations, this should come as shocking news. Most have been content to ride out the economic turmoil with little to no hiring, and what little did take place was rarely from this generation. Only 7 percent of Millennials have worked for a Fortune 500 company.

As most Millennials have come to realize, finding a job is an entrepreneurial activity. You’re selling your skills to the highest bidder, or most often, just anyone willing to pay for them. If you can’t find a full-time job, a part-time one will do for now. Even project work will be fine.

With scant opportunity to move into a “career position,” they learn to get by with piecemeal work, often living at home because they haven’t stabilized their income to the point of being credit worthy, something most landlords are quick to pick up on. 

After testing out a variety of filler jobs, part-time positions and gig work, finding the next project becomes a way of life. Before they know it, they’ve entered the world of involuntary entrepreneurship, a path that neither academia nor any other aspect of early learning has prepared them to take.

But Millennials are savvy networkers, connected to an average of 16 other coworkers, and hundreds of other close friends. This “awareness network” is quick to spot new opportunities.

Within the next 10 years, the average person who turns 30 will have worked between 200-300 different projects.

Here are many of the things you haven’t heard about this trend, and why your next job will likely be anything but permanent.

The Emerging, Course-Shifting Millennial Generation

Young people today are different than previous generations, but maybe not in ways that you may think. Here are 15 fascinating facts about Millennials:

  1. By next year, millennials will account for 36 percent of the U.S. workforce and by 2025, they will account for 75 percent of the global workplace. [U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics / The Business and Professional Women's Foundation]
  2. Only 6 in 10 Millennials have jobs, half are part-time [Harvard University]
  3. 284,000 American college graduates were working in minimum-wage jobs in 2012. [Wall Street Journal]
  4. 48 percent of employed college graduates work in jobs that don’t require a four-year degree. [The Center for College Affordability and Productivity]
  5. 63 percent know someone who had to move back home because of the economy. [Pew Research]
  6. 35 percent of employed Millennials have started their own business on the side to supplement their income. [Iconoculture]
  7. 90 percent say being an entrepreneur is really a mindset instead of just the role of a business owner [Millennial Branding / oDesk]
  8. Over 63 percent of Gen Y workers have a Bachelor’s Degree. [Millennial Branding / PayScale]
  9. They are now on track to become the most educated generation in American history. [Pew Research]
  10. 92 percent believe that business success should be measured by more than just profit. [Deloitte]
  11. 56 percent of Gen Y’s won’t work at a company if they ban social media access. [Cisco]
  12. 69 percent believe office attendance is unnecessary on a regular basis. [Cisco]
  13. Average tenure for Gen Y is 2 years (5 for Gen X and 7 for Baby Boomers). [Millennial Branding / PayScale]
  14. It costs an average of $24,000 to replace each Gen Y employee. [Microsoft / Experience, Inc.]
  15. Millennials will account for 40 percent of the voting electorate by 2020. [The Center for American Progress]

On Monday: With this backdrop, let’s look at how the Millennial generation is about to collide with some of the other driving forces in the business world.

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Thomas Frey

Thomas Frey is the executive director and senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute and currently Google’s top-rated futurist speaker.  At the Institute, he has developed original research studies, enabling him to speak on unusual topics, translating trends into unique opportunities. Tom continually pushes the envelope of understanding, creating fascinating images of the world to come.  His talks on futurist topics have captivated people ranging from high level of government officials to executives in Fortune 500 companies including NASA, IBM, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, Unilever, GE, Blackmont Capital, Lucent Technologies, First Data, Boeing, Ford Motor Company, Qwest, Allied Signal, Hunter Douglas, Direct TV, Capital One, National Association of Federal Credit Unions, STAMATS, Bell Canada, American Chemical Society, Times of India, Leaders in Dubai, and many more. Before launching the DaVinci Institute, Tom spent 15 years at IBM as an engineer and designer where he received over 270 awards, more than any other IBM engineer.

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