The World Bank report, “Working Without Borders,” illuminates a significant shift in the global workforce.
As the digital landscape evolves, an increasing number of young workers are turning to online gig work. This phenomenon is particularly notable in developing countries, where local job opportunities are often scarce or of low quality.
Rising Popularity Among Youth
Online gig work is a major part of the global labor force, constituting up to 12% of it. Notably, over half of this workforce comprises youth, a demographic that exceeds their overall representation in the labor market.
Flexibility, Financial Incentives
A key driver for young workers towards online gig work is its inherent flexibility. This flexibility allows them to earn while learning or starting their careers, adapting their skills to meet market demands.
Additionally, online gigs often offer higher pay compared to traditional jobs, providing financial stability and the opportunity to be self-employed.
Geographical Distribution, Internet Access
Contrary to common belief, many online gig workers come from smaller towns, not just major cities. This trend suggests a democratization of work opportunities, especially in areas with limited local employment options.
However, successful participation in the gig economy depends heavily on internet access and digital infrastructure.
Challenges Beyond Internet Access
While internet access is crucial, it’s not the sole factor in the success of online gig work. Other barriers exist, as evidenced by variations in gig work participation in regions with similar internet coverage.
For instance, in the Middle East and North Africa, the uptake of gig work among youth in smaller cities is lower despite good internet access.
Opportunities for Diverse Groups
Online gig work offers equitable opportunities for people regardless of their educational background. In some regions, gig workers earn more than their counterparts in the informal sector. Notably, the gig economy has seen better representation of women compared to traditional labor markets.
This sector also emphasizes the importance of non-technical skills like communication and time management for success.
Need for Social Protection
Despite its potential, the gig economy lacks adequate social protection for workers, similar to other informal sectors in developing countries. Most gig workers do not have access to health insurance or old-age benefits.
However, there is a growing aspiration among these workers to develop their skills and acquire financial support for work-related necessities.
This situation calls for targeted social protection programs between policymakers and online platforms.
Shaping Future of Work
The World Bank report highlights the transformative impact of online gig work on the global labor market. As the gig economy continues to grow, it will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of work, especially in developing countries.
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