“Gig’ economy to phase out lifetime careers?

(Financial Times)  The typical cog in a machine job in a typical work place are not the only jobs available. The new world of work has jobs which are both more exciting and less secure. There is greater variety, in both pay and conditions. A job is more likely to be part-time, temporary, freelance or self-employed. It may not be a job at all, in the way it used to be defined.

 

Job sites such as Monster.com and platforms such as Uber, could add 2 per cent to global gross domestic product by 2025, increasing employment by 72m full-time equivalents. As the number of micro-firms, Freelancers and independent contractors grown many young people believe that the best days for freelancers lie ahead.

 

Gone is the era of the lifetime career, let alone the life-long job and the economic security that came with it, having been replaced by a new economy intent on recasting full-time employees into contractors, vendors and temporary workers.

 

The gig economy is only part of a shift in employment over the past three decades, unleashed by technology and global trade. It has created many winners and losers, both by outsourcing jobs from the west to Asia and Africa, and by changing the terms on which most people work. Financial and contractual risk that used to be borne by companies has been transferred to employees.

 

Yet this world of insecurity and risk is also one that many people seem to appreciate. More self-employed people in Europe and the US report enjoying their jobs than those who are employed. Many entrepreneurs, even those who run a tiny business that amounts to self-employment, like their freedom and self-reliance and the possibility that they could become wealthy and see lot of lot of potential in the new world of work .

 

The ideal working life for many millennials is not finding a safe job that will last them a lifetime but creating a technology start-up, a glamorous form of small business that is backed by angel investors.

 

The challenge for policymakers is to find a new form of employment contract that suits the changing workforce. Benefits such as pensions and sick leave are often attached to permanent jobs and increase with longevity. As jobs fracture, individuals who switch jobs, work as consultants or run “micro-businesses” with one or two employees need similar support.

 

The task is to limit the downside of the new economy without curtailing job growth or preventing people from working in the way they prefer. There is a danger of romanticising the past benefits of permanent full-time employment and fixed-job contracts when many now want alternatives.

 

While most people prefer freedom from typical jobs; the new world of work must chart a course between the twin dangers of corporate conformism and worker exploitation.

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