CEPS Project

Online Talent Platforms, Labour Market Intermediaries and the Changing World of Work


CEPS was commissioned to perform the study-project “Online talent platforms, labour market intermediaries and the changing world of work”, which is part of the 2017-2018 EU Sectoral Social Dialogue Work Programme of the World Employment Confederation-Europe and UNI-Europa on temporary agency work. It aimed to investigate the development of the online talent platform economy and the new forms of work that are accompanying it.

The study focused on online talent platforms, i.e. the online platforms that are work-based. The study investigated the growth of the online talent platform economy and the new forms of work it has spawned. It examined the size and structure of the online talent platform economy, with a focus on employment and its labour market effects. The study further analysed access to social protection and training for labour suppliers, and the applicable (regulatory) frameworks. These same issues are also considered for temporary work agencies and their workers, and a comparison is drawn between the two. The study tackled these research questions from both a European and a national perspective.

It showed that online talent platforms and temporary work agencies do have features in common, but there are also significant differences between the two, which make it difficult to use temporary agency work as a model for the online talent platform economy; in many cases, it would not be a good fit. That being said, the call by policy-makers, social partners and other stakeholders for a level playing field should not be overlooked. Furthermore, the study also confirmed that any comparison of the online talent platform economy and the temporary agency work sector is hampered by a lack of data. In order to address this issue, continued monitoring and much more transparency of online talent platforms is needed, as well as further data collection and analysis of both the online talent platforms and the temporary work agencies. These efforts are important because more flexible forms of work are likely to become increasingly prevalent in the future.

In terms of methodology and data, this study strongly relied on existing literature (academic, policy and other publications) and data sources (surveys, case studies, online tools and databases). Each chapter is based on a literature review and desk research that focus on online talent platforms and temporary work agencies. The report is enriched with practical examples and small case studies, which are included to strengthen the analysis presented in the chapters. These examples were adapted to the question at hand, which means that for some a cross-country or cross-sectoral perspective was taken, while others focused on a specific national context, sector, profession or platform. Examples have been selected on the basis of data availability and with a view to covering different types of activities and practices.

Ana Silva

Project Officer

+32 (0)2 229 39 83

Karolien Lenaerts

Research Fellow

+32 (0)2 229 39 35

Willem Pieter De Groen

Associate Senior Research Fellow

Romain Bosc

Research Assistant

+32 (0)2 229 39 75

Zachary Kilhoffer

Nicolas Salez