South Africa

Temporary Employment Services, the gig economy and solving SA’s unemployment crisis

Managing Executive:
3 mins

In decades past, the career goals for most individuals was to find a job, earn promotions, and retire at 65. Many people did this at the same companies they joined as juniors. Job security was important and career advancement was respected.

Today, job expectations are very different. Flexibility and work life balance trump job security. Skills are rapidly changing and skilled individuals don’t want to spend decades doing the same job. They want to move between disciplines, experience multiple roles and use their skills and knowledge in different, new ways.

Underpinning these changes is technology and the ability to work from anywhere, for anybody, across different continents and time zones.

The result? The rise of the ‘gig’ economy based on freelancers and independent consultants who do not want to be permanently employed. They want short-term contracts with specific outcomes. They want to choose when they work and who they work for. Some employers have found the shift terrifying. Others are eagerly benefiting from hiring top skills for short durations without carrying long-term overheads.

Like it or not, however, the gig economy is here to stay – and it may be the solution to South Africa’s unemployment crisis.

Temporary Employment Services and the

gig economy

While the term gig economy – which refers to short ‘gigs’ of work – may be relatively new, freelancers, project work, consultants and contractors are not new. Temporary Employment Services, such as those offered by Quest, have played a key role in many industries for decades, catering for fixed duration business projects, seasonal work and providing additional staffing to solve fluctuations in the volume of work based on big contracts.

As we are all aware, South Africa’s unemployment rate is at an all-time high. The pandemic has devastated economies around the world, and South Africa has been no exception. Businesses have closed and many are weary of employing new people and growing workforces without confidence that South Africa’s economic outlook will improve. It’s a Catch 22 situation – economies improve when people are working and individuals and businesses are spending money. 

How can Temporary Employment Services help? It’s simple. Through these services, we can tap into what businesses need and individuals are looking for: flexibility. 

For a business, constantly looking for skilled and unskilled workforces, recruiting and managing them for short gigs can be complex, time-consuming work. Except this is exactly what a provider like Quest does. Similarly, individuals who want to be a part of the gig economy can work through Quest, creating stability while still enjoying flexibility. Finally, without the risks associated with growing a full-time workforce, businesses are more likely to invest in jobs, reducing unemployment rates in South Africa and getting the money flowing.

3 key benefits of Temporary Employment Services


  1. Temporary work results in upskilling

Every role offers new experiences. Similarly, different businesses and industries give individuals an opportunity to learn something new. This is one of the real benefits of temporary and gig work for individuals – they become multiskilled, making them extremely attractive in the job market. Even better? Businesses that work with Temporary Employment Services get to benefit from these specialised skills.

  1. Compliance is built into the service

There are many labour laws, such as the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Labour Relations Act, that protect the rights of workers in South Africa. Many businesses are unsure where temporary work lies in this landscape and are weary of falling afoul of the law through simple lack of experience in this area. 

At Quest, we manage the workforce, ensuring compliance on various levels within the business, allowing our clients to focus on their core businesses. We have specialists in all fields, including legal, commercial, industrial relations, payroll and operations, which means we can ensure a business is maintaining its compliance standards with the necessary legislation.

  1. On-demand skills for fluctuating needs

As a well-established and experienced Temporary Employment Service provider, we have access to a pool of semi-skilled and skilled talent at all times. This means we can provide on-demand staff for fluctuating business requirements immediately. We also ensure that anyone who we place has the necessary skills, training and management to ensure productivity and efficiency. 


Pulling it all together

South Africa’s unemployment crisis will not be solved overnight. However, we’ve see how temporary employment is a key solution that can begin to help our economy recover. Businesses can successfully operate without full-time, permanently employed staff that add a huge burden to overheads, particularly when the workforce is bigger than the business’s operational needs. Just as critically, many individuals can work on shorter gigs without becoming stagnant in the job market. The longer an individual is unemployed, the harder it is to find employment. And finally – this is the future of work. It offers flexibility, better work life balance and access to multiple skills and experiences. It’s where workforces are going, and we are the experts in navigating it.

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