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Is the gig economy good for us?

  • Published at 10:09 pm October 18th, 2018
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Making way for a new ride Bigstock

Services such as Uber and Shohoz are showing us a new way of being employed

The current flow of the world’s economy has absorbed its basis by dominating drastically on employment, and where much has changed, if we see globally, is in the employment forms, thanks to a sheen of automated and digital age, and shedding off the trappings of obsolete employment culture.

Today’s employment sector is divided not only between an informal or formal sector, but also laced with other kinds. A term, though not diametrically a new one, has been introduced to us which can help understand the nature of the very glowing feature of the present economy -- in a perspective of Bangladesh as well as the all-out world: The gig economy. 

In a wider  perspective, the gig economy is occupying the larger economic share. As we can see, the UK itself has dominated this economy by 1.1 million workers, let alone other countries. 

As a simplistic definition, where in an economy, organizations, companies, and private firms hire their worker on a contractual basis -- when the post is not permanent for their generic post, is called a “gig.”

All the significant companies -- Uber, Facebook, Google, BBC, etc are all jutting out their hands to temporary workers. In the US, about 40% of the worker will be found in the gig economy by 2020, according to Intuit's predictions. Freelancing is the most common form of employment that is being developed, and which is one of the most prominent constituents of the gig economy. 

In 2017, a report published by Oxford Internet Institute (OII) showed that Bangladesh is the second largest country dominating the freelance market only after India. Sales, marketing support, software development, web development, and graphic design were the basic affinity of the Bangladeshi workers and they occupied about 16% of the whole share.

What gives the incentive to the contemporary job seeking people, and why are they prone to this form of employment? And at the same time, why is the employer interested  in hiring an employee temporarily? The main reason behind this -- independence.

A freelancer has his/her freedom to work or not, although, depending on the contract, this freedom may fluctuate. For the employer, they can find a huge number of job-seeking people for a specific task, and for that reason, the employer can set their wage. Due to the mobile nature of their employees, these companies save money on office space. Employees, including female, are now more free to choose work based on their own skillset. 

The world economy is setting itself to become automated and digital, and there is fear that the demand for the average worker is declining drastically. When the employer can have his work done so quickly and cheaply through automation, why hire human workers? The digital age is a major threat to employment, but at the same time is seen as a boon for the employer. Much independence on wage setting and production function choice has been achieved by the employer.  

In Bangladesh, start-ups such as Pathao, Shohoz, or international organizations such as Uber are keen on hiring people temporarily, and workers are also responding to it. What's the reason? The employment level in Bangladesh is very low, and when they receive a chance to work, it is only natural that they respond. 

The newcomer entrepreneurship in Bangladesh is still commencing and they must have their time to grow up. Challenges is buoying in wind of Gig economy of Bangladesh. The temporary jobs here is not considered as a job at all and their social value is low owing to a temporary stand of position where our people couldn't get out of their tiny box of life and they haven't had the mind set up to absorb the gig economy's environment at all.

People are still, in a large portion, running after government jobs. And here the growing gig environment is the shattering of long-aged culture of employment.

There are limits that can be factored in to a great extent. In a broad sense, permanent job won't be replaced by the gig economy in the long run. People want security of jobs and other benefits and they are not eager to dive into contract basis throughout their life. For the employer, the recruitment of a new employee is costly and takes much hard work in finding the exact quality or skillsets they are searching for. 

Should we want to move our burgeoning economy further, we have to acknowledge the gig economy and everything it has to offer.

Amitav Barai is a freelance contributor.