The Rise of the “Solo Economy” — What it Means for Workers and Credentials

Why is the American workforce migrating out of their cubicle walls and into more flexible models of career management?

53 million. This number might surprise you – I know it got my attention. That’s the number of people in the US who are already working independently, as freelancers, indie professionals, creatives, and free agents (Freelancers Union, n.d.). And this number is expected to grow to more than 50% of America’s workforce over the next decade. For this population, soon to be the majority of American workers, work is no longer a place they go; work is what they do.

Why is the American workforce migrating out of their cubicle walls and into more flexible models of career management? What are the characteristics of the emerging solo workforce, and what are the implications of solo work life for cities, institutions, and for learning credentials? As a result of this shift, what new models for learning, up-skilling, and reinvention must solo workers master to thrive?

To learn more, we spoke with Michael Hopkins, founding partner and editorial director of The Solo Project. Launched by the people who helped create and lead the Inc. Magazine and Fast Company brands, The Solo Project provides inspiration, ideas, tools, and community for soloists in the United States.

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