Photo credit: Flickr user Jai Kapoor.
What do you see when you think about what the workforce looks like in your city?
The traditional view has been people working full time Monday through Friday, from 9 to 5. But the reality is not that simple. Since 1970, the number of self-employed people as a share of total jobs has more than doubled. Today there is more than one self-employed person for every five wage and salaried workers. Some call these people “solo entrepreneurs.” They are still far from a majority of the workforce, but they are much more prevalent than most people think, and researchers predict the number will continue to grow.
"Get with the program: Developing an action plan for successful cities" by Carol Coletta on KnightBlog.org
This transition to self-employment creates new challenges for cities. Who is the target of a city’s economic development efforts if more than 20 percent of its workers are self-employed? What type of support do solo entrepreneurs need? How can public places and programming be used to make independent workers as productive as possible?
There are no certain answers, but here at Knight Foundation we want to facilitate the conversation. We also want to understand for our own work what role cities can play. That’s why this week we’re holding a Civic Innovation Learning Lab on Harnessing Talent on Wednesday, April 23. It’s the second in a series of three labs that will culminate in a Civic Innovation in Action Studio in May where we will try to emerge with ideas for testing in cities. Last month we held a lab on advancing opportunity, and we plan to hold a lab on robust engagement on Thursday (check Knight Blog for details on that one later this week).