16 May 2018

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

Karolien Lenaerts / Willem Pieter De Groen / Zachary Kilhoffer / Romain Bosc / Nicolas Salez

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By comparing the online talent platform economy and the temporary agency work sector, this study aims to contribute to a rapidly growing literature on new forms of work and their impact on the labour market. It shows 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 confirms 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 will be 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.

This report was commissioned jointly by the World Employment Confederation-Europe (WEC-Europe) and UNI Europa in the framework of the European Sectoral Social Dialogue on temporary agency work, which aims to investigate the development of the online talent platform economy and the new forms of work that are accompanying it. The report was launched at a Pan-European Conference organised in Brussels on 16 May 2018.

The research for this study was conducted in full independence by CEPS, together with the Institute of Labour Economics (IZA), based in Bonn.

This report is the result of a combined effort by a team of researchers drawn from the two institutes: Karolien Lenaerts, Zachary Kilhoffer, Willem Pieter de Groen, Romain Bosc and Nicolas Salez from CEPS and Werner Eichhorst, Margard Ody, Nikos Askitas and Nicolas Meys from IZA.