Is the Gig economy a liberating new form of self-employment or a new form of exploitation?
At first, the term ‘Gig’ was commonly used to refer to musicians who would play wherever they could, going from place to place to get paid for their performance. A gig economy nowadays represents an environment in which temporary positions are common and organisations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements.
Depending on where one is looking at, the gig economy represents either a promising economic model which would enable individuals to unleash their full potential and to be more creative as freelancers; or it is a temporary and unsuitable ideal which needs to be regulated by competent policymakers before it is too late.
Dynamics are shifting
Labour market dynamics are shifting rapidly driven by technological progress and globalization. At the same time, fewer people are keen to engage as a full-time employee. On top of that, more and more organizations do not issue fixed contracts anymore. The gig economy also includes (and is sometimes called) the “on-demand, peer, or platform economy”. Embodied by companies like Uber, TaskRabbit, Airbnb, Handy, and Deliveroo, this economy operates by offering marketplaces based on ratings and payment systems routed through apps.
The realities of ‘gig work’
Meanwhile, surprisingly little is known about the realities of ‘gig work’. Is it a liberating new form of self-employment or a new form of exploitation? There is a growing need to reflect on how society deals with these changes in a manner that protects and educates young people.
In addition, education and training (towards work) is mainly set up as either a preparatory route towards becoming a professional (employee). And during the last decade, schools and training centres have set up more and more entrepreneurship training courses as well. These are mainly build on turning an idea into a viable businesses. In between these two there is a gap.