Two out of five adults have done temporary agency work, contracting or freelancing at some point in their careers, up from just over a third in 2014, said the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (Rec).
More than one in four temporary agency staff, contractors or freelancers say they want to spend more time with their family, or on hobbies, gaining skills or setting up a business, according to the study.
Rec chief executive Neil Carberry said: “People are making a positive choice to do flexible work because they want more from their job.
“For too long, the political debate has treated flexible work as second class, and even locked flexible workers out of some forms of support, like the apprenticeship system.
“That has to change. We need to celebrate different forms of work that are essential to meeting workers’ needs.
“We need genuine two-way flexibility which benefits both business and workers. In times of uncertainty, businesses need flexibility to meet demand for skills and people are looking for opportunities to work flexibly or balance work with caring needs.
“Policies designed for the past need to be redesigned, for instance broadening the apprenticeship levy would mean even more people can get training while working flexibly to enhance their careers and reduce skills shortages.”
A survey of more than 4,000 people by the Rec showed a big increase in the number of 18- to 35-year-olds working as temps because they enjoy the flexibility it offers.