Bracing for the in-demand economy
The world’s workforce has ways to tap new income streams across informal platforms
in these countries continue to trap most people in relative poverty. Gig economy platforms that provide small jobs without benefits or career progression can supplement income and buffer other employment, but they do not add up to the security and advancement opportunities of a formal job.
Making ends meet
Indeed, most emerging-market workers turn to the gig economy not out of a desire for flexibility or to follow their passions, but simply to make ends meet.
Nonetheless, informal markets in developing countries provide a vast field for experimentation to transform a patchwork of jobs into a steady upward path for workers. Tailoring education to allow workers to get the on-demand skills they need when they need them, and creating verifiable work histories through blockchain, are two ways to help gig economy workers find suitable opportunities more efficiently and capture more value from selling their labour.
While developed countries in Europe, North America, and Asia are rapidly ageing, emerging economies are predominantly youthful. By 2040, one in four workers worldwide will be African.
They are products of dynamic informal markets, and that should ease their absorption into a tech-enabled gig economy. Nigerian, Indonesian and Vietnamese young people will shape global work trends at an increasingly rapid pace. We can learn from them today to prepare for tomorrow. Anne-Marie Slaughter is President and CEO of New America. Aubrey Hruby is cofounder of the Africa Expert Network and Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council.