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Business News/ News / Online gig work provides women, youth with opportunity but lacks job security says World Bank report
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Online gig work provides women, youth with opportunity but lacks job security says World Bank report

World Bank report: Online gig work is rapidly expanding, with 435 million people globally engaged. Raises concerns about job security and worker rights.

World Bank report highlights rapid growth of online gig work, with an estimated 435 million people globally engaged in such work. (Unsplash)Premium
World Bank report highlights rapid growth of online gig work, with an estimated 435 million people globally engaged in such work. (Unsplash)

The World Bank published a report on September 7 highlighting the rapid expansion of online gig work, particularly in developing countries. The report is based on surveys conducted across 17 countries, including Egypt, Argentina, Nigeria, Russia, and China.

The study estimates that as many as 435 million people globally engage in online gig work considerably larger than previously estimated 154 million, with a 41% increase in demand for such work between 2016 and the first quarter of 2023. 

Online gig work encompasses tasks like image tagging, data entry, website design, and software development, often allowing workers to operate from home. For those in developing nations, where quality job opportunities are limited, such work offers a valuable entry point to the labour market.

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Online gig work presents a dual-sided scenario for governments and workers alike. On the positive side, it offers income-generating opportunities, particularly in developing countries, where many individuals are engaged in low-productivity, informal occupations. 

The virtual and often short-term nature of gig work offers flexibility, benefiting marginalised groups such as women, youth, migrants, and people with disabilities. These roles can serve as a pathway for low-skilled workers to acquire essential digital skills, bridging the digital divide and leading to better job prospects.

However, most gig jobs lack adequate worker protection, offering uncertain income streams and unclear career trajectories. Roughly half of the surveyed gig workers did not have a retirement plan. Depending on local labour regulations, many gig workers are vulnerable to unfair practices, exploitation, and workplace injuries. Online gig work also presents challenges related to data security and privacy.

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Key Findings

  1. Online gig work is on the rise, accounting for up to 12% of the global labour force, becoming a significant income source for millions.
  2. The demand for online gig workers is growing faster in developing nations than in industrialized ones.
  3. Local gig platforms play a crucial role in regional labour markets, but they encounter challenges in establishing sustainable business models.
  4. Online gig work can promote inclusivity by offering opportunities to youth, women, and low-skilled workers.
  5. Gig workers, like many informal sector workers in developing countries, often lack the protection of labour regulations.
  6. The gig economy can locally foster digital skill development, increase income prospects, and enhance social protection coverage for informal workers.

Read full report on the World Bank site.

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Published: 08 Sep 2023, 08:54 PM IST
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