As a growing number of millennials pursue careers in the gig economy, how will the nature of work, benefits, and education change? That’s the question MAP’s President Steven Olikara addressed on Capitol Hill at the House Small Business Committee’s June 6th “Millennials and the Gig Economy” hearing.
Prior to Olikara’s testimony and following brief introductions from Chairman Steve Cabot and Ranking Member—and Future Caucus member—Nydia Velazquez, the committee heard opening statements from three expert witnesses. They shared direct experience and insight into entrepreneurship, spoke to millennials’ desire for workplace flexibility and the pursuit of passion, and highlighted the unique ability the gig economy has to accommodate these interests.
Rounding out the opening statements was MAP’s co-founder and president Steven Olikara, who emphasized the need for a new, “21st century”social contract that works for the future workforce.
Olikara highlighted the fact that millennials participate in the gig economy to a much greater extent than other age brackets, and at a rapidly increasing rate. However, the impermanence inherent to gig labor means that young entrepreneurs do not have comparable access to benefits such as healthcare, retirement savings, workers compensation, disability and life insurance, paid sick leave, education, and job training. Olikara mentioned that some states have already drafted legislation which improved the portability of retirement benefits, and suggested that Congress follow their lead. Olikara argued that Congress must act for the benefit of millennials and modernize the workplace by better supporting the gig economy, which improves millennial entrepreneurial prospects.
Olikara also emphasized the impact of student loan debt on millennials in the gig economy, stating, “If we want to see economic growth for the entire country, we need to do more to reduce the burden of student loan debt on millennials."
MAP looks forward to continuing to work with its members, particularly at the Congressional level, to find proactive ways to create a platform that makes it easier for millennials to spark innovation and entrepreneurship.