Brac­ing for the in-de­mand econ­omy

The world’s work­force has ways to tap new in­come streams across in­for­mal plat­forms

Gulf News - - Comment & Analysis -

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.

Luis Vazquez/©Gulf News

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