The views expressed in this article are the author’s and are not necessarily the views of the partners.
The disruption in the job and employment segment due to the COVID-19 crisis has been evident for the past few months. One thing that became more evident throughout the challenging times was the informal or gig workers’ uninterrupted support offered to the nation. The gig workers finally gained prominence as they were acknowledged as “Essential Workers”.
The rapid digitisation that fostered change in the labour market led the gig economy to grab more eyeballs. Workplaces started getting evolved into work platforms to matchup the pace of Tech Next-Gen. Most of the professional gig economy segments and projects witnessed rapid growth even before the pandemic. The gig economy proved itself as cost-effective for companies as the leaders can accommodate a temporary workforce as per the business models and needs.
With the adoption of newer business measures and technology, the employment sector faces a spree of changes that will encourage workers for multi-skilling and offer companies to reach out to candidates with requisite skills. It is true that in many instances, people with a standard job took on additional work in the on-demand economy in order to “top up” their income.
But many workers see their gig jobs as their full-time employment. As devastating as it has been, the coronavirus pandemic has at least served as a catalyst for long-needed change in gig worker status. On-demand workers have shown that they are equal to regular workers, but they are also essential.
The leadership at large gig platforms recognises the need for a change in labour paradigms. Now the pandemic has created an opportunity for the leadership of gig companies to protect and support their employees. The rise of the gig economy has brought new possibilities and problems for employment relations.
Many academics, trade unionists and current or former gig workers have voiced concerns about the possible negative effects of platform companies’ business and labour practices. The government intervention can help in combating existing challenges which will further ensure the supply of skilled labour in the market.
The remote working model remained another major element of the job disruption that rightly accelerated the need to enhance tech-driven skills. Remote working was being looked upon as a cost-effective working model even before the crisis, but the pandemic proved that telecommuting is here to stay. Despite initial fears that the work pressure would be too great, many entrepreneurs and industry experts have discovered that this new way of working could be a blueprint for the long term.
Entrepreneurs and industry leaders take the current paradigm shift seriously to ensure that their employees are equipped with the skills critical to their recovery business models.
In 2017, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that as many as 375 million workers or 14% of the global workforce would have to switch occupations or acquire new skills by 2030 because of automation and artificial intelligence. In a recent McKinsey Global Survey, 87% of executives said they were experiencing skill gaps in the workforce or expected them within a few years. But less than half of the respondents had a clear sense of how to address the problem.
The recent pandemic crisis has made this question more urgent. Employers and job seekers across various industries must figure out how they can adapt to rapidly changing conditions. Companies have to learn how to match those workers to new roles and activities. This very challenge is more than remote working or the role of automation and AI. It’s about how the workforce can be re-skilled and up-skilled to deliver new business models in the post-pandemic era.